Home » Science » In 2014, scientists found a giant 30,000 year old virus in Siberian permafrost. The virus, Pithovirus sibericum, was still infectious and began killing amoebas. This raised concerns that melting or drilling arctic ice could unearth previously undiscovered pathogenic viruses.

In 2014, scientists found a giant 30,000 year old virus in Siberian permafrost. The virus, Pithovirus sibericum, was still infectious and began killing amoebas. This raised concerns that melting or drilling arctic ice could unearth previously undiscovered pathogenic viruses.

Pithovirus

Pithovirus, first described in a 2014 paper, is a genus of giant virus known from two species, Pithovirus sibericum, which infects amoebas and Pithovirus massiliensis. It is a double-stranded DNA virus, and is a member of the nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses clade. The 2014 discovery was made when a viable specimen was found in a 30,000-year-old ice core harvested from permafrost in Siberia, Russia.

Description

The genus name Pithovirus, a reference to large storage containers of ancient Greece known as pithoi, was chosen to describe the new species. A specimen of Pithovirus measures approximately 1.5 μm (1500 nm) in length and 0.5 μm (500 nm) in diameter, making it the largest virus yet found. It is 50% larger in size than the … Continue Reading (3 minute read)

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