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Microbiologists can now measure extremely slow life
Date:3/19/2012

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Life in extreme environments

"Extremely high pressure, total darkness and very little nutrition those are the conditions under which microorganisms live on the seabed. At the bottom of the deep oceans, the pressure reaches several hundred atmospheres," explains Alice Thoft Langerhuus, one of the researchers behind the results.

The researchers also have an idea about how the bacteria can survive under such extreme conditions. They actually succeeded for the first time in demonstrating that there are just as many dormant cells as there are active ones. To a great extent, the bacteria therefore choose to form endospores, which have a solid 'shell' to protect themselves against the harsh environment.

The researchers combined organic biogeochemistry with microbiological studies, and their interdisciplinary model can also provide information about life in other extreme ecosystems.

"Our knowledge can be used in ancient environments with extremely low biological activity, such as permafrost soil. The method is particularly useful for detecting life in the most inactive environments," says Bente Lomstein.


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Contact: Bente Aa. Lomstein
bente.lomstein@biology.au.dk
(45) 60-20-27-69
Aarhus University
Source:Eurekalert  

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