A surprising amount of living cells have been retrieved from 800m below the freezing surface.
The samples retrieved from Lake Whillans are the first in Western Antarctica to show evidence of life. The microbes are believed to be actively using oxygen and have been sealed below the ice for more than 100,000 years. In recent years several teams have worked towards retrieving samples from subglacial lakes however success until now has proved elusive.
One of the biggest challenges the team faced was ensuring that the samples weren't contaminated by microbes from the surface but despite this researchers are confident that what they've found did come from the depths of Lake Whillans. "This is a big deal - and exciting," said glaciologist Martin Siegert. "The first clean access to a subglacial lake system."
"Cells containing DNA have emerged as the first evidence of life in a subglacial lake in West Antarctica."
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Source: Science News
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