Scientists found as many bacteria under the ocean as there are in our intestines

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — In recent years, the study of the “ deep ” biosphere, which had previously escaped the attention of scientists, has been developing ever more widely.

Organisms that exist at great depths are found everywhere: they are found in wells extending for kilometers in the thickness of the continental crust and below the ocean floor. It is assumed that its scale is enormous, and the “deep” biosphere accounts for up to 90 percent of the mass of all bacteria and archaea of ​​the Earth.

However, unusual and complex conditions, as well as the unusual biochemistry of such microbes, greatly complicate their study in the laboratory.

Fortunately, Yohey Suzuki and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo succeeded – their article was published in the journal Communications Biology. Back in 2010, during the 329th expedition under the Integrated Ocean Drilling program, scientists drilled the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, in the area between Tahiti and New Zealand, at a depth of about 5.7 kilometers.

The drill penetrated 125 meters below the seabed, including 40 meters of solid volcanic rock. The obtained samples, carefully preserved from contamination, were delivered to the laboratory.

Their age – depending on the specific place of the fence – was estimated from 13.5 million to 104 million years. In the tiny fissures of the cores formed in ancient times during cooling of magma, amazingly numerous microbial communities were found.

According to scientists, for every cubic centimeter of the breed contains at least 10 billion bacterial cells. For comparison, usually at the bottom, you can usually find about 100 cells per volume, and in such quantities microbes are found only in our own intestines, rich in symbiotic microflora. The rocks enriched with clay minerals provide an excellent environment for the life of aerobic bacteria.

The sequence of ribosomal RNA allowed us to determine that these microbes belong to quite common groups: Arcobacter , Thioreductor , Sulfurimonas , Sulfurovum , Alteromonas and so on. “Finding life where no one expected, in a solid stone below the seabed, can be very important for finding life in space,” says Yoshie Suzuki. Now I’m almost sure that I can find life on Mars.”

“A neutral or slightly alkaline environment, low temperature, moderate salinity, excess iron, basaltic rocks,” the scientist continues, “all these conditions are the same both on the bottom of the oceans and on the surface of Mars.” Indeed, according to the University of Tokyo, his team will collaborate with NASA in the analysis of Martian rocks to search for life on the Red Planet. The Perseverance rover, preparing to launch in mid-summer, was created for this.


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