Science & Technology
Dinosaur-era microbes brought back to life
By T.K. Randall
July 31, 2020 · 10 comments
Microbes can survive for an unimaginable amount of time. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Brocken Inaglory
Scientists have successfully revived microbes found in sediment samples that are over 100 million years old.
The samples, which date back to a time before even Tyrannosaurus rex roamed the Earth, were retrieved from the bottom of the Pacific ten years ago by the drill ship JOIDES Resolution.
The region in question, which is known as the South Pacific Gyre, descends to a depth of over 20,000ft and the microbes were found around 328ft beneath the sediment.
"Our main question was whether life could exist in such a nutrient-limited environment or if this was a lifeless zone," said study lead author Yuki Morono.
"And we wanted to know how long the microbes could sustain their life in a near-absence of food."
Incredibly, when the researchers provided the long-dormant microbes with nutrients, they came back to life, despite their extreme age.
To ensure that they were not being contaminated by modern microbes, the team placed the samples in a sterile environment and used a special tube to supply the nutrients.
Within 68 days, there were four times as many microbes as there had been at the start.
"At first, I was skeptical, but we found that up to 99.1% of the microbes in sediment deposited 101.5 million years ago were still alive and were ready to eat," said Morono.
Source: Live Science
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