Defrosting ancient poo could reintroduce some age-old bugs to the modern world, scientists say.
An extremely infectious and deadly ancient virus, released from a frozen slumber by warming climates, could play havoc with immune systems that have no experience of such germs.
A team of international biologists, including the University of Canterbury’s Arvind Varsani, has proven that such an incident is theoretically possible, after they resurrected an ancient virus from the 700-year-old frozen droppings of Canadian caribou.
With a little reconstruction, the DNA virus, christened the “caribou faeces-associated virus”, has gone on to infect modern-day plants, according to a paper published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Varsani said the team had proved ancient viruses were as worthwhile to study as today’s versions – as both may make up tomorrow’s germs.
The virus was also identified as a relative of a modern one, giving valuable insight into how the microbes evolved, he said. “Through this work we might be able to understand where they are going and what they are doing if they become pathogenic.”
The elephant in the room is of course the dinosaurs in the Labour Caucus. ¬†Is¬†their poo a risk factor in infecting more modern Labour politicians? ¬† Read more »