Researchers Revive Ancient Microbes Who Were Dormant For 100 Million Years

Morono and D'Hondt with Sediment Cores

Scientists collected them 10 years ago from up to 75 meters below the seafloor and almost 6,000 meters below the ocean's surface, during an expedition to the South Pacific Gyre.

The soil the microbes were being trapped in was taken from a 2010 expedition to the South Pacific Gyre, a seemingly lifeless zone in the centre of swirling ocean currents to the east of Australia, recognised as a single of the most foods-constrained and everyday living-deficient elements of the ocean (and a trash vortex, with all the plastic pollution it gathers at the surface area). Small life forms such as microbes become trapped in this sediment.

As reported by Gizmodo, an global team of scientists led by geomicrobiologist Yuki Morono from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology revived these microbes that are actually from 101.5 million years ago. "But what we found was that the life-extending into the depths of the ocean from the seafloor to the basement rock underlying".

"We knew that there was life in deep sediment near the continents where there's a lot of buried organic matter", said URI Graduate School of Oceanography professor and co-author of the study Steven D'Hondt. When sediment builds up quickly, the pressure pushes out any oxygen that might otherwise linger between the grains to keep aerobic microbes alive.

After incubation by the scientists, the microbes started to consume and increase.

With the newly developed ability to grow, manipulate and characterize ancient microorganisms, the research team is looking forward to applying a similar approach to other questions about the geological past.


Not only does it show that life can sit waiting in the most extreme environments on Earth but gives new hope that it could be found on inhospitable planets, such as Mars.

According to the scientists, their findings could provide valuable information regarding the evolution of ancient microbes.

The research has made it clear there are no limits to life, says a fellow scientist.

'We want to understand how or if these ancient microbes evolved.

Morono says he and his team dated the microbes at somewhere between 13 million to 101.5 million years old.

The list of microbes found in the subfloor sediment spans 10 major and minor groups of bacteria, including spore-formers, although they were only a minor constituent of the microbial communities.

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