Scientists have successfully revived microbes that have spent the last 100 million years under the ocean floor

No human would be able to survive 101 million years, and that is 6 kilometers below the ocean floor. In this respect, we are much weaker than the ancient microorganisms .

This is the discovery of the Japanese Marine and Geological Research Agency (JAMSTEC), whose research team led by Dr. Yuki Morono revived ancient microbes.

- We wanted to check whether living organisms are able to survive in such a seemingly lifeless place. Additionally, we wanted to find out how long microbes can live without access to nutrients, says Morono.

Excavations from the bottom of the ocean

Researchers at JAMSTEC discovered ancient microbes while studying sediments that they recovered from a depth of 5,700 meters below the ocean floor. And not just any place. The research was conducted in the area of South Pacific Vortex, which is one of the poorest submarine places in terms of access to food for living organisms. In a word: it seems to be practically a dead zone.

It began when scientists discovered oxygen molecules in the sediments obtained 10 years ago during the research expedition of the JOIDES Resolution ship. And since oxygen was there, in theory, some aerobic microorganisms could survive in such hostile conditions. Indeed, further analysis of the layers recovered from under the ocean floor revealed that they contained a lot of microbes. These organisms showed no signs of life, but Morono's team wanted to see if they could still be revived.

The experiment did not require too much. It was enough to place the microbes in a more life-friendly environment rich in oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. It was enough for 99.1 percent. microbes from 101 million years ago, as if nothing had ever returned to normal life. Almost immediately after receiving the right amount of nutrients, the microorganisms began to grow and multiply.

This discovery leads us to new questions

Since the scientists managed to revive the microbes recovered from the bottom of the ocean, it means that they were not really dead at all. And since they were not dead, they hibernated and, as the authors of the discovery speculate, were able to draw energy from somewhere to maintain this state. Whence? Dr. Steve D'Hondt, who co-authored the study, speculates that the bacteria may have obtained energy from the decay of radioactive elements found in undersea sediments. This theory will be tested in the course of further research.

The successful return to life of these microorganisms could mean that other microorganisms, viruses, and bacteria also await the right moment to come back to life beneath the ocean floor and somewhere in the permafrost.

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Scientists have successfully revived microbes that have spent the last 100 million years under the ocean floor


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