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how Long can live life to microscopic dormant state? This is the question that researchers from Japan and the united States wanted to respond to it when it was proposed, revive microbes trapped on the seabed of the Ocean Pacific for over 100 million years.

“we Wanted to know how long microbes could maintain their life in the absence of food,” he says to Sciencealert microbiologist Yuki Morono , of the Science and Technology Agency of the Land and the Sea of Japan, who heads a study that has just published in “Nature Communications”. And the answer is yes: the microbes that had been trapped in the sediments of the seafloor were able to come back to life after giving them the proper food and breathe oxygen.

Proving that life is opening up the way

The study has several important implications. The pressure is immense for the microbes in the seafloor, due to all the water accumulated in the upper part, not to mention the fact that the lack of oxygen , the few essential nutrients and supplies of energy miserables . When life becomes trapped in environments of high pressure, the fossils usually form after a million years or more, but these resistant microbes were very alive.

“we Knew that there was life in deep sediments near the continents where there is a lot of organic matter buried”, the geomicrobiólogo Steven D’hondt , of the University of Rhode Island. “But what we found was that the life-extending into the depths of the ocean from the seafloor to the basement rock underlying”.

A sample of the soil in which they were trapped was taken from an expedition in 2010 to the Gyre of the South Pacific, an area apparently lifeless in the centre of ocean currents in eddy to the east of Australia, known as one of the most limited in food and deficient in life (as well as a vortex of garbage, with all the plastic pollution that accumulates on the surface).

As part of the expedition JOIDES , the team extracted cores of sediment that is found at a depth of up to 75 metres below the seabed, which is nearly 6 kilómetrosbajo the surface of the ocean. They took samples of clay pelagic old, which accumulates in the deeper parts and remote from the ocean; in addition to areas a lot more “young”, limestone soil of between 4.3 and 13 million years ago.

Revived, 99% of the original population

The ancient microbes were given a boost of oxygen and is fed with substrates containing carbon and nitrogen. Before the glass vials were seal, the incubated. After it closed again and opened after 21 days, 6 weeks or 18 months. The surprise came when, even in older sediments, the researchers were able to revive almost all the microbial community original . “I was skeptical at first, but we discovered that until the 99.1 percent of the germs in sediments deposited makes 101.5 million years ago were still alive and ready to eat,” says Morono.

After its long incubation, the microbial communities were classified according to their genes. The researchers reported that the soils of the seabed were dominated by bacteria, but not of the type that form spores, which means that they were ready to grow as soon as you give them the proper food. Some microbes quadrupled in number and consumed, the carbon and nitrogen available to 68 days after their incubation.

“This shows that there are no limits to life in the ancient sediments of the oceans in the world,” says D’hondt. “In the sediment, the most ancient that we have drilled, with the least amount of food, there are still living organisms, and can wake up, grow and multiply”. Not only will you have found microbes that are resistant on the bottom of the oceans, but have also been found beings that have been able to be “revived” in the Antarctic and in deserts. Life opens step.

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