(ORDO NEWS) — As the world continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists have discovered that the next pandemic may not be caused by bats or birds, but by something far more common: melting glaciers.
Soil genetic analysis revealed the risks of the spread of the virus and transmission of viruses to humans. Virus spread is the process by which, upon encountering a new host, a virus can infect it and be transmitted to the new host.
In a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the researchers detailed the likelihood of impacts from global climate change.
The biggest challenge for scientists remains the melting of glaciers, as shrinking permafrost could release viruses and bacteria trapped in glaciers. These viruses can spread in the wild to humans, similar to SARS-CoV-2, which led to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If climate change also shifts the range of potential carriers and reservoirs of the virus to the north, the Arctic could become fertile ground for the emergence of pandemics,” the environmentalists said in the document.
The team collected soil and sediment samples from Lake Hazen, the largest high-altitude Arctic freshwater lake, and sequenced the RNA and DNA in these samples to identify signatures close to those of known viruses.
The results of the study showed that the risk of spreading viruses increases in the process of accelerated melting of glaciers.
It is worth noting that viruses are present everywhere. Despite the wide variety of genomes, viruses are not independent organisms or replicators because they need to infect a host cell in order to replicate.
Scientists studying glaciers in 2021 found 33 viruses that have been in a frozen state for more than 15,000 years, of which 28 are unknown viruses. Recently, viruses have also been found in a Tibetan glacier melting due to global warming.
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