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The ancient Siberian horse remains tested for paleovirus evidence

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Tissue samples were taken from the remains of a 4450-year-old horse in the hope of finding evidence of ancient viruses. Photo: Nina Sleptsova / Corporate Media Editorial Board of North East Federal University

Scientists in Russia have taken samples from the once frozen remains of a 4,500-year-old horse as part of a new project to look for ancient viruses in animals preserved in Siberia’s permanent freeze.

Researchers with the Russian state laboratory Vector and the North Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk hope to find paleovirus DNA and RNA in animal waste, allowing them to learn more about the diversity of microorganisms from thousands of years ago.

Samples to be used in the study, including the horse, are kept at the university’s Mammoth Museum.

The work is the first step towards studying paleovirology in Russia, with scientists hoping they will learn more about the evolution of viruses.

Horse remains were the first to be selected for the study. Frozen remains were found in the Verkhoyansk region in 2009 and dated to 4450 years old. The complete nuclear genome of the animal was deciphered, providing important insights into the origin of the modern Yaku horse.

For the latest research, a hole was created in the debris, from which soft tissue samples were taken.

They were placed in a test tube and sent for molecular-based testing – isolation of total nucleic acids and extensive genome sequencing – which is expected to provide data on the genetics and biodiversity of each microorganism in the tissue.

“If nucleic acids are not destroyed, we will be able to get data on their composition and determine how it changed, what was the evolutionary development of events,” said Olesya Okhlopkova, a researcher in the Department of Biophysics and Vector Environmental Research. .

After all, data can provide important information about paleoviruses.

Maksim Cheprasov, who heads the lab at the Mammoth Museum, said in a declaration that other animals will also be studied, including deer, mammoth, dogs, ancient quail, various rodents, creatures like rabbits and others.

All have been found within the last 10 years. So far, only their remains have been bacteriological studies.

The museum is home to the remains of more than 20 different animals taken from the permanent frost, all kept at a temperature of -16C, -18C.

Sergei Fedorov, in charge of the museum exhibits, said the technology does not stand still.

“With the help of new research methods, we hope paleoviruses are found in our facilities and interesting discoveries in the world of viruses await us.”

The Vector Laboratory, which specializes in virology and biotechnology, is located in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia.

There is research equipment capable of meeting all levels of biological hazards. It is one of the two official repositories for the smallpox virus that has now been eradicated.

The laboratory has made many major contributions to vaccine projects, the development of antiviral drugs, and diagnostic tests.



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