Navigation Links
Scientists find bacteria thriving on a feast of seafloor rock

On the deep ocean floor, microbial life is feeding on fresh volcanic rock and flourishing with greater abundance than even the most optimistic scientists thought possible. According to a study published May 28 in the journal Nature, scientists have found bacteria growing on oceanic crust in concentrations that are thousands- to ten-thousand times (three to four orders of magnitude) greater than what is found in the overlying waters.

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the University of Southern California (USC), and four other institutions collected and examined rock and water samples from the East Pacific Rise, the Nankai Trough, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Sargasso Sea, and the seafloor near Hawaii. They used various molecular and genetic analysis tools (such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction and clone libraries) to quantify the abundance, richness, and diversity of communities of bacteria living on young ocean crust.

What they found was a community of microbesgrowing without light and eating rocksthat is as fertile and prodigious as what can be found in terrestrial farm soil. Such seafloor microbes have been detected before, but this is the first time that they have been quantified.

We were truly shocked to find microbial life thriving at the levels we observed, said Cara Santelli, a recent graduate of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography and now a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard University. Santelli conducted the research with geochemists Katrina Edwards and Wolfgang Bach while all three were in Woods Hole. Edwards is now at USC, while Bach has moved to the University of Bremen.

Theoretical research by Edwards and Bach had suggested that life could exist in such a dark, cold, and rocky environment, said Santelli, lead author on the Nature paper. The objective of our project was to provide tangible evidence. Not only was the biomass in seafloor lava greater than in the overlying seawater, but the bacterial diversity was significantly greater than we could have imagined.

The findings open up new questions about the evolution of Earth and of seafloor life.

We are just beginning to scratch the surface, Santelli said. What role does this microbial community play in global ocean chemistry" What sort of metabolism is needed to live in and dominate this environment" And what exactly are these microbes doing down there"


Contact: Media Relations
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Related biology news :

1. Leiden scientists sequence first female DNA
2. Scientists announce top 10 new species, issue SOS
3. U-M scientists remove thousands of aspens to glimpse forests future
4. Scientists reveal the lifestyle evolution of wild marine bacteria
5. Scientists discover a molecular scaffold that guides connections between brain cells
6. Scientists paint viruses to track their fate in the body
7. Incense is psychoactive: Scientists identify the biology behind the ceremony
8. Scientists decipher fruit tree genome for the first time
9. Scientists discover small RNAs that regulate gene expression and protect the genome
10. Argonne scientists use lasers to align molecules
11. Too hot to handle! Scientists identify heat sensing regulator
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/20/2015)... 20, 2015 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... the growing mobile commerce market and creator of the ... , was recently interviewed on The RedChip Money ... this weekend on Bloomberg Europe , Bloomberg Asia, ... --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 19, 2015  Based on ... Frost & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 Global ... Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to ... line catering to the needs of the market it ... product line meets and expands on customer base demands, ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... -- Although some 350 companies are actively involved in molecular ... according to Kalorama Information. These include Roche Diagnostics, Hologic, Abbott ... of the 6.1 billion-dollar molecular testing market, according to ... Diagnostic s .    ... one company and only a handful of companies can ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... --> ... 2020 report analyzes that automating biobanking workflow will ... long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, improving the workflow ... errors such as mislabeling or inaccurate sample barcoding ... a vital role in blood fractionation, DNA extraction, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: PIP) announced ... stockholder rights plan (Rights Plan) in an effort to ... (NOLs) under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code ... PharmAthene,s use of its NOLs could be substantially limited ... in Section 382 of the Code. In general, an ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2 nouvelles études permettent d , ... les souches bactériennes retrouvées dans la plaque dentaire ... . Ces recherches  ouvrent une nouvelle voie ... de l,un des problèmes de santé les plus ... --> 2 nouvelles études permettent d , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of bacteria ... for more effective treatment for one of the most commonly ... --> --> Gum disease is one ... relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with it ... researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: