Buried Antarctic Lake Home to Rock-Eating Microbes

Buried Antarctic Lake Home to Rock-Eating Microbes

Antarctica

Antarctica is one of the most barren locations on the planet, and still "life finds a way"

New research published in today's issue of scientific journal Nature reveals that a large population of diverse rock-eating bacteria lives in a freshwater lake buried beneath the Antarctic ice. This data confirms preliminary studies conducted 20 years ago that identified microbes in refrozen water samples retrieved from Lake Vostok, the largest subglacial Antarctic lake.

The study was conducted by biologist Brent Christner and colleagues from Louisiana State University. The team analyzed samples retrieved from another subglacial lake, known as Lake Whillans, which lies beneath half a mile (roughly 805 meters) of ice West Antarctica. Scientists discovered at least 3,931 microbial species or groups of species in their samples of lake water, and many of those microorganisms use inorganic compounds as an energy source.

"People weren't really thinking about ecosystems underneath the ice. The conventional wisdom was that they don't exist, it's a place that's too extreme for this kind of thing," Christner said in an interview.

Due to the low amount of surface melt, it is unlikely that the lake was exposed to outside water that managed to travel through the thick layer of ice to reach it. Scientists think the water instead comes from geothermal heating at the base of the lake as well as through frictional melting during ice flows. Due to their environment, these microorganisms likely survive on energy and nutrients from melting ice, crushed rock, sediment, and recycling of materials from dead micro-organisms.

This find not only reiterates how life can thrive in extreme conditions, but also helps support the idea that similar species could have- or might still be living on Mars. "Conditions are right (on Mars) for there to be liquid water at the bed. The right types of rocks are present which contain reduced (compounds) and if there are oxidizing agents present, then microbes can make a living shuttling electrons between reduced compounds and oxidized compounds," said glaciologist Martyn Tranter from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Share your thoughts about this story in the comments!

Source: Discovery News

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This is good news especially as support for the theory of Europa having an ecosystem under it's large ice field. Anyone that says our rock is the only one with life is ignoring these amazing facts on how adaptive life really is.

ExtrEEEEEEmophiles! I hope we find some little Martians, maybe sell them in pet shops.

Welp, there goes the solar system.

So, they can thrive on something as basic as rock - one might assume other things as well - and I assume they proliferate in water.

Ummm...

Okay, so who here played Extermination?

Fascinating, most animal life has to eat other animal life of one form or another, so something that eats rocks and trace nutrients is quite different. Biology is about diversity, goro!

Once more, a Jurassic Park quote has been proven to offer us truth about the universe.

Let's just hope they don't wake up like 'The Thing' and start terrorizing the world. If they eat rocks, where are all the pigeons going to poop on with all the stone statues gone?

Think of the Pigeons everyone!

Zepherus14:
Let's just hope they don't wake up like 'The Thing' and start terrorizing the world. If they eat rocks, where are all the pigeons going to poop on with all the stone statues gone?

Think of the Pigeons everyone!

Plenty of cars to do their business on.

OT: Another fun thought just came to mind. The Microbes grow more and more complex and evolve into complex beings that devour stone with high-powered acid. There's a brief struggle between them and us, but then...

Zepherus14:
Let's just hope they don't wake up like 'The Thing' and start terrorizing the world. If they eat rocks, where are all the pigeons going to poop on with all the stone statues gone?

Think of the Pigeons everyone!

What about the other Thing? He's made of rocks goddamnit, how will he survive the upcoming rockdemic?

MWHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Finally, we have something to fight the Weeping Angels!
image

OT:
Well, this is actually kind of cool.

Now, if only, we could find some microbes that eat nuclear waste.

Haru17:
Fascinating, most animal life has to eat other animal life of one form or another, so something that eats rocks and trace nutrients is quite different. Biology is about diversity, goro!

Not quite so strange actually.. i mean plants get their energy from dissolved soil minerals and sunlight. CHances are there are aksi microbes in that lake that feed on other microbes. You'll find life in many places. THey also find sulpher eating microbes around 300 degree underwater volcanic vents..

ToastiestZombie:

Zepherus14:
Let's just hope they don't wake up like 'The Thing' and start terrorizing the world. If they eat rocks, where are all the pigeons going to poop on with all the stone statues gone?

Think of the Pigeons everyone!

What about the other Thing? He's made of rocks goddamnit, how will he survive the upcoming rockdemic?

Oh wow I didn't think of that! Good call.

 

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