View Full Version : Bacteria Found Deep Underground

2006-Oct-26, 12:09 AM
Princeton researchers have discovered a colony of bacteria that lives more than 3 km (2 miles) underground. This bacteria lives completely cut off from the biosphere on the surface of the Earth, and derives its energy from the radioactive decay of rocks underground. By finding life in these extreme conditions, scientists are expanding their understanding of what kinds of habits can support life.

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2006/10/25/bacteria-found-deep-underground/)

John Mendenhall
2006-Oct-26, 04:58 PM
My, my. And doesn't that look like the stuff in the martian meteorite?

2006-Oct-26, 08:05 PM
doesn't that look like the stuff in the martian meteorite?

It doesn't look THAT much like it, but then again this isn't a fossil, so it shouldn't be identical, even if it is the same species. What I don't see here is a scale of measure. My impression is that these bacteria are giant compared to the supposed Martian ones.

2006-Oct-26, 11:28 PM
I think we need findings like this. Maybe it will open theories up for other species to exist then just ones that rely on water and oxygen.

Ronald Brak
2006-Oct-27, 08:12 AM
There's lots of life on earth for which oxygen is a poison and it has been suggested that it might be possible for life to use ammonia or something instead of water as a solvent. Nothing seems as good as water, but we currently don't know what's possible.

2006-Oct-27, 09:35 AM
A couple of years ago I read a study on findings of bacteria in solid bedrock. A team of scientists collected rock samples from various drilling holes that were core-drilled especially for that purpose, in various countries, down to depths of up to 6 km. The drill liquid which is used to cool and wash the drill head during the core-drilling process was color-marked with a very penetrative color, thus it was possible to clearly see how deep the liquid had infiltrated the various rock samples that were obtained from the core drilling procedure.
As it was likely that the drill liquid contained some usual bacteria which were likely to contaminate the samples, the tracer color was used to indicate which sections of the rock samples could be contaminated by these bacteria, and which not. The sections which had no tracer color in them were thus free from bacteria that might have got into them during the drilling process.

The result of the testing was that every bedrock sample contained its own special set of bacteria. The samples from limestone, marl, shale and sandstone contained up to 100.000 bacteria per cubic centimetre. The samples from granite, porphyry, and basalt contained at least 10 bacteria per cubic centimetre. No one sample was bacteria-free

It seems that most of life is thriving in earth, not on earth. Oxygen is only required by oxygen breathing life-forms like animals, man, plants, and fungi. Such life-forms are large and easy to see, and we oversee the small life-forms. The latter, however, make up at least 99,99999% of the lot. For many of these, oxygen is a poison, they do not need or want it.

One ingredient that is essential for life is liquid water. It may be pressurized, boiling hot, fraught with poisonous sulphur compounds and salt: you will always find some or another type of bacteria or archea in it which accepts this environment as its home. Life is ubiquitous.
We know that there is liquid water in martian bedrock. It would not amaze me to learn that some bacteria-like specimen will be found on closer investigations on that planet.



2006-Oct-28, 01:40 AM
Most explanations assume that either life underground migrated from the surface, or somehow, life from deep underground made it to the surface - and that's how life on the surface began. But there is also a third possibility.

Life began - and evolved - independently in both places.

If true . . .

Then the life that we find so deep in the ground, underneath our feet, is as alien to our world as anything we would find on Mars - or anywhere else where the search for life has taken place. Of course, there are those who would say that it is alien anyway, due to the extreme environment this life is found in. I'm not arguing against that - simply expanding upon it.

I would say . . . this life could be alien even compared to the bacteria on the surface.

In this view of things . . .

The life above - and the life below - are two separate places where life began. The implication of this - if true - may be that life exists in places where it was never conducive on the surface. This bacterial form of life could easily exist in places as hostile as the moon, Mercury, Venus, or even Pluto - assuming that the subterranean temperature there is warm enough. It could exist anywhere and everywhere, that similar subterranean conditions exist.

If true . . .

Surface conditions are not only irrelevant - they are irrelevant for the entire history of the planet - or other astronomical body under consideration.

2006-Oct-28, 02:19 PM
a third possibility.
Life began - and evolved - independently in both places.

Certainly possible. It will be interesting to see what comes out when they sequence the DNA from these deep subterrainean extremophiles and compare them to the ones near the deep sea vents, and any bacteria that look similar in the more familiar biosphere.

BTW, welcome to the BAUT forum.

2006-Oct-28, 07:38 PM
Lets hope they contain DNA. It would revolutionize scientific thinking if the found that they contain some sort of reproductive code mechanism other than DNA