Centuries-long consequences of sneezing on Everest revealed

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder in the USA have discovered numerous microorganisms on the slopes of the world’s highest mountain that have adapted to withstand harsh conditions here.

In the past, it was not possible to detect any human bacteria or virus samples in samples collected from such high altitudes.

They can survive for centuries

However, in the latest research, such specimens were found at an altitude of 7,900 meters above sea level.

It is stated that these microorganisms are scattered on Everest by people’s sneezing or coughing and can survive here for centuries.

“Even at that height there is a frozen human signature”

“Everest’s microbiome has a frozen human signature, even at that altitude. Those are the kinds of things that can come out when someone blows their nose or coughs,” said Steve Schmidt, co-author of the study, published in the scientific journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research.

When people cough or sneeze, it pours a kind of “germ rain” into the environment. So it’s not too surprising to find microbial traces of past visitors.

They survive by sleeping

But the researchers were surprised that these microbes, accustomed to living in warm bodies, survived by sleeping in the frozen soil of Everest.

Among the organisms examined were bacteria with the Latin names Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, which were detected in the nose and mouth, respectively.

These bacteria were found in soil samples taken 170 meters from a base camp in the South Col, where hundreds of adventurers attempting to climb Everest from the southeast ridge in Nepal have pitched their tents. Soil analysis revealed DNA sequences for “extremophile” organisms, many of which are suitable for survival at high altitudes.

The research article included the following statements on the subject:

“Our data suggest that the South Col and other extremely high-altitude environments can act as freezers for organisms that, once they arrive, will never leave the area.”

The findings are not expected to have a major impact on the environment. But the data still concerns all humanity.

Especially as a warning to consider the effects of humans on other planets in future space travel missions.

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