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Ancient microbes discovered in icy lake

Posted on Tuesday, 27 November, 2012 | Comment icon 13 comments | News tip by: Karlis

Image credit: Calee Allen / NOAA

Researchers have discovered microbes living in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the freezing, dark depths of Lake Vida in Antarctica represented one of the most unlikeliest places on Earth to find living things; yet despite an environment that would seem deadly to any form of life a viable colony of microbes have managed to eke out an existence there. The discovery adds weight to the idea that life might exist below the ice on other worlds such as Jupiter's moon Europa.

"This work expands our understanding of the types of life that can survive in these isolated, cryoecosystems and how different strategies may be used to exist in such challenging environments," said study co-author Dr. Alison Murray.

"Lake Vida, the largest of several unique lakes found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, contains no oxygen, is mostly frozen and possesses the highest nitrous oxide levels of any natural water body on Earth."

  View: Full article |  Source: Science Daily

  Discuss: View comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by CuriousGreek on 27 November, 2012, 18:38
The world will know more important discoveries as for this issue in the future i believe :)
Comment icon #5 Posted by NikkiAidyn on 27 November, 2012, 19:40
Very cool.. -sits and waits for more
Comment icon #6 Posted by bison on 27 November, 2012, 20:03
Remarkable that life can exist, even flourish in these conditions. Perhaps an interesting coincidence that news of this should come out within a week of an anticipated presentation about another very cold, nearly oxygenless environment, on Mars, and the possibility that it may harbor simple forms of life, too.
Comment icon #7 Posted by JGirl on 27 November, 2012, 20:41
wow! that's amazing
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sundew on 27 November, 2012, 21:51
The article states the lake has the highest nitrous oxide level of any body of water on earth. So then, these are happy little organisms!
Comment icon #9 Posted by pestilent0ne on 28 November, 2012, 3:13
So what is the possibility that as the ice melts new microbes and bacteria being introduced into our population causing new illnesses such as say morgellons or other unknown caused illnesses?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Skeptic Chicken on 28 November, 2012, 5:31
Well, we'd have to wonder if they'd survive in temperature higher than that of their home-lake. Some bacterias go to sleep in freezing temperatures, which is why mould doesn't grow on frozen things, then they thrive in warm temperatures. I'd presume that it's vice versa for these ones that they just discovered. Thrive in cold, and sluggish in warmth.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Lava_Lady on 28 November, 2012, 7:36
Perhaps initially that's true but, what if they they begin to acclimate to the warmer environment and start to mutate?! Hideous monstrosities will begin to roam the earth! At first, sightings will be rare and classified as Cryptozoological or more commonly referred to as the "Gullible wack job" files. Then their numbers will grow until they can no longer be denied and then the terror begins!!! Wet Willies, wedgies, invasions of personal space, that irritating mocking thing kids do sometimes... Havoc will be wreaked!! Or we may be mildly annoyed... I ... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Idano on 28 November, 2012, 22:40
....and happy little researchers!

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