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World of Science: Weird, old life down deep

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Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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Location: A false vacuum abiding in ignorance.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:14 am    Post subject: World of Science: Weird, old life down deep Reply with quote

New Type of Bacteria Reportedly Found in Buried Antarctic Lake
Elizabeth Howell, OurAmazingPlanet ContributorDate: 07 March 2013 Time: 06:47 PM ET
A new type of microbe has been found at a lake buried under Antarctica's thick ice, according to news reports. The find may unveil clues of the surrounding environment in the lake, according to scientists.

The bacteria, said to be only 86 percent similar to other types known to exist on Earth, was discovered in a water sample taken from Lake Vostok, which sits under more than 2 miles (3 kilometers) of Antarctic ice. The freshwater lakehas likely been buried, unaltered, under the ice for the past million years.

Russian scientists reportedly obtained the water samples in 2012 when they drilled all the way down to the lake's surface. They ran the bacteria's composition through a global database and were not able to find anything similar to its type. Scientists couldn't even figure out the bacteria's descendents.

"After putting aside all possible elements of contamination, DNA was found that did not coincide with any of the well-known types in the global database," said Sergey Bulat, a geneticist at the Saint Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics, in a quote attributed in media reports to RIA Novosti news service.

"We are calling this life form unclassified and unidentified," he added.

Full Story: http://www.livescience.com/27737-new-bacteria-found-antarctic-lake.html

So apparently it's very unrelated to anything currently around, but that's just preliminary and could change


Elsewhere, there's diatoms and fungus that could millions of years old . . . and some of it may be just dormant Shocked (ok, this isn't as shocking since there's already jurassic ale and what not, but still . . .)

Ancient Fungus Discovered Deep Under Ocean Floor
Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff WriterDate: 05 March 2013 Time: 12:16 PM ET
The story of life on Earth keeps getting stranger. Researchers report they've discovered dormant algae and a thriving community of carbon-chomping fungus deep beneath the ocean floor in 2.7-million-year-old mud.

Genetic evidence indicates the most deeply buried fungi are distinct from wind-blown relatives at the planet's surface, suggesting the fungal communities are ancient and isolated.

"We've found strong evidence that fungi are alive and active and in the sub-seafloor," said William Orsi, a microbiologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass., and lead author of the study describing the find, detailed online Feb. 13 in the journal PLOS One.

Beneath the ocean floor lives a vast community of microbial life researchers are only now starting to explore. Some scientists call it the "dark biosphere," and see the potential for a treasure trove of new potential drugs.

"Fungi can produce really interesting natural compounds, some of which are antibiotics," Orsi told OurAmazingPlanet. "Deep biosphere fungi are an untapped resource by the pharmaceutical industry."

Orsi examined sediments drilled from ocean basins around the world to better understand microbial life beneath the seafloor. The samples ranged from just below the seafloor surface to 157 feet (48 meters) deep.

Instead of searching through the deep-sea sludge for tiny creatures, Orsi looked for snippets of ribosomal RNA (rRNA), a proxy that shows microbes are metabolically active.

In the oldest, deepest sediments, from the Eastern Pacific Ocean, fungi predominated. The subsurface microbial community was more diverse closer to the surface, in younger mud, with metazoans, protists and plant material, or green algae.

The fungi correlated closely with the amount of organic carbon in the sediments, suggesting they contribute to recycling carbon in the seafloor, Orsi said. "This reveals an additional component of the ecosystem that can contribute to the cycling of organic carbon," he said.

The algae from the deep sediment present a puzzle. They are a kind of phytoplankton called diatoms, a common one-celled organism. Their genetic material indicates the microbes are dormant, but could be revived, Orsi said.

"This was an unexpected discovery," Orsi said. "We've found diatoms and the nucleic acid preserved in sediments for millions of years."

...if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there.
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