The Arctic may soon reveal the next epidemic. Here’s why: ScienceAlert

The Arctic may soon reveal the next epidemic. Here’s why: ScienceAlert

As the world continues to warm and glaciers melt, the Arctic could become “fertile ground” for new viral pandemics. climate change The subsequent increase in risk EbolaInfluenza, or SARS-CoV-2 Arrive early rather than late.

In a new study, researchers looked at soil and lake sediment Lake Hazen, the largest lake by volume north of the Arctic Circle. By sequencing segments of DNA and RNA found in soil, scientists wanted to identify its pool the virus present in the environment.

using a computer algorithm By contextualizing the viruses with animal, plant, and fungal hosts present in the area, the team was able to deduce the risk of viral spillover: that is, the ability of viruses to flood into new host species and spread as SARS-CoV. 2 It has moved away from its population Wild animals among humans.

“Glacier melting as a proxy for climate change increases the risk of spillover,” the researchers wrote in their paper. Published paper.

“If climate change shifts the species range of potential viral vectors and reservoirs northward, the High Arctic could become fertile ground for emerging epidemics.”

The researchers compared the evolutionary trajectories of both viruses and hosts, looking for differences and similarities between the two—comparisons that suggest changes in the status quo and the potential for subsequent viral spillover.

“From an evolutionary perspective, viruses are more likely to infect hosts that are phylogenetically close to their natural hosts, because it is easier for them to infect and colonize genetically similar species,” the researchers explained. in their paper.

consistent with Previous researchWhich shows how degraded landscapes can stress pathogens, parasites and hosts Together in new waysThe researchers suggest that increased glacial runoff increases the likelihood of viruses jumping into eukaryotic hosts.

Increased spillover risk is different, however, in soil and lake sediment samples. On land, with high glacial melt flow, spillover risk increases to a point before decreasing, whereas risk continues to increase in lake sediment samples.

One explanation offered by the researchers is that increased runoff means more organic matter — and the organisms it contains — washes into lakes rather than remaining on land.

“With climate change, the metabolic activity of the Arctic’s microbiosphere also changes, thereby affecting numerous ecosystem processes such as the emergence of new pathogens,” Write to researchers.

The High Arctic – that is, the northernmost regions – is a part of the world most dangerous For climate change. Over the past few decades, a third of the Arctic Ocean has been winter ice disappeared.

At the same time, scientists are warning Increased risk of epidemics Caused by multiple factors: At least human activity destroys natural habitats and forces animals and humans into increasingly close proximity.

Based on this recent research, there is an urgent need to understand the relationship between habitat change and proximity to new disease sources – and as global warming may drive species further north to maintain environments with similar temperatures, the potential for viruses to jump to new species increases. .

“This dual effect of climate change, both increasing the risk of spillover and leading to northward shifts in species’ ranges, could have dramatic effects on the High Arctic.” Write to researchers.

“Eliminating this risk from actual spillovers and epidemics will be an important effort to pursue in parallel with surveillance activities.”

The study was published Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

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