900 New Microbes, Hidden For Millennia, Could Spawn The Next Global Pandemic

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Researchers just on Tibetan Plateau reportedly discovered over 900 previously unknown kinds of microorganisms hidden deep inside glaciers. It has been found that certain types the bacteria might generate subsequent pandemics in the event of fast thawing of their frozen cages due to climatic change.

As a result, scientists created a vast archive called the Tibetan Glacier Genome and Gene database of microbial genomes from the ice-bound microorganisms. There has never before been genetic sequencing of an entire glacier-dwelling microbiome.

The scientists detected 968 microbial organisms preserved in the frost, mostly bacteria, but then also algae, archaea, and fungus, according to a paper in Nature Biotechnology.

Almost all of these creatures were previously unknown to science, with just a few exceptions. As a result of the difficulties connected with surviving in glaciers, scientists were surprised to see this amount of microbial variety. There is a wide variety of life on glaciers, considering the fact that they are inhospitable to most forms of life due to the cold temps, high amounts of solar radiation, and regular freeze-thaw phases.

However, no one knows precisely how ancient these microorganisms are; previous research has indicated that microbes buried in permafrost for upwards of 10,000 years may be revived.

Caused by global warming, the melting of glacial ice is increasing the likelihood that possibly deadly microbes—most commonly bacteria—will emerge and cause havoc, experts say. According to scientists, if discharged into the atmosphere, ice-entrapped harmful bacteria might cause local outbreaks and possibly pandemics.

It’s likely that some of these freshly discovered bacteria are toxic to people and wildlife. Within the inventory, the scientists discovered 27,000 possible pathogenicity factors, chemicals that facilitate bacterial invasions, and colonization of new host cells. There actually is no way to tell how dangerous the bacteria will be because of the fact that approximately 47% of all these virulence determinants haven’t been seen previously.

William Reid
A science writer through and through, William Reid’s first starting working on offline local newspapers. An obsessive fascination with all things science/health blossomed from a hobby into a career. Before hopping over to Optic Flux, William worked as a freelancer for many online tech publications including ScienceWorld, JoyStiq and Digg. William serves as our lead science and health reporter.