Pithovirus Sibercum, New Giant Viruses Survived For More Than 30,000 Years

Mar 6, 2014
Pithovirus Sibercum is a new type of giant viruses have been found in the North-East Siberian permafrost by researchers from Genomique et structurale laboratory (CNRS / AMU). Pithovirus buried under the ground is very harmful to humans and animals have survived for over 30,000 years. 

Analysis of the genome and replica Pithovirus prove very different mechanisms of viruses ever found so far. The results of this study published in the journal PNAS, March 2014. Pithovirus Sibercum was survived in permafrost have been found in the Arctic for more than 30,000 years.

Pithovirus Sibercum, Giant Viruses Discovered In Siberia 

In 2003, scientists have clarified virus Megaviridae and Pandoraviridae is diversity of giant viruses, because it is the only virus which can be seen in an optical microscope which exceeds the size of 0.5 microns. This virus infects amoeba-containing genes are very large compared to common viruses such as influenza or AIDS which simply have ten genes. 

Through several stages of research, scientists studied samples of frozen soil in the North-East Siberia, Chukotka Autonomous, where they discovered a new giant virus which older than 30,000 years. In other words, giant viruses Pithovirus Sibercum has the same age with Neandethal. Ampora shape similar to Pandoravirus, and initially scientists suspect this species is derived new family.

Pithovirus Sibercum, New Giant Viruses

In the study, genome analysis of Pithovirus prove no genetic relationship among Pithovirus and Pandoravirus, although Pithovirus have fewer genome (500 genes) compared to Pandoravirus genome has 2,500 genes. Pithovirus particle protein composition in length ranges from 1.5 microns and 0.5 microns wide. Of the hundreds of proteins that make it up, only one or two are commonly seen in Pandoravirus particles.
According to scientists, the primordial distinction among the two viruses is how to replicate the cell or a replica in the amoebas. Pandoravirus requires participation and a lot of functions in the nucleus of an amoeba cell to replicate, which doubled Sibercum Pithovirus process happens in the cytoplasm similar to the behavior of DNA viruses such as family Megaviridae.

Although Pithovirus has a smaller genome than Pandoravirus, seems to be less dependent on cell amoeba in terms of dissemination the virus. The level of autonomy giant virus host cell appears to correlate with sizes genome and is not associated with the transport of particle sizes.

Scientists said there was no similarity between the two giant viruses have been found. Instead it has added a new list, three giant viruses of different families are considered very harmful to humans and animals. The virus survived in permafrost in the north pole for more than 30,000 years,or in accordance to the Late Pleistocene period.


30,000 year-old giant virus found in Siberia, 03 March 2014, by Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Journal ref: Thirty-thousand-year-old distant relative of giant icosahedral DNA viruses with a pandoravirus morphology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014.