You didn’t do it alone, okay. And it’s not about zombies. They are microbes that were revived 100 million years later. They were inactive all the time … until we got there. How did they come to life? It was thanks to the work of Japanese scientists. You belong to the Japanese Agency for Science and Technology of the Ocean. An American worked with them. They published the results of their research this Tuesday in the journal Nature.
The long break
These bacteria were aerobic. That means they need oxygen to live. They apparently survived on the ocean floor of the South Pacific. They were in nutrient-poor sediments that contain enough oxygen. These sediments were almost 6 kilometers below the surface of the sea. After a long pause, they were reactivated.
The scientists incubated the microbes found on the seabed for 557 days. Her “food” was carbon and nitrogen. Also ammonia, acetate and amino acids.
At least 99.1% of the saved microbes started to eat and reproduce.
“When I found the microbes, I was skeptical. The results could be an error or a failure in the experiment,” said study leader Yuki Morono.
“It’s wonderful. And biologically challenging. A lot of the microbes could be revived after a long burial time under extremely low nutrient or energy conditions,” Morono said. “We now know that there is no age limit for organisms in the seabed biosphere,” he added.
Small but nice
Steven D’Hondt is a professor at the University of Rhode Island, USA, and co-author of the study. He said the microbes came from the oldest samples taken from the ocean floor. “In the oldest sediment we drilled with the least amount of food. There are still living organisms that can wake up, grow and multiply, “he said.
Microbes are among the simplest organisms on earth. Some may live in extreme environments where evolved life forms would not resist.
Previous studies have shown bacterial resistance. They can survive in places as hostile as the vicinity of underwater slots that lack oxygen. But nothing like the microbes that resurrected 100 million years later.
Morono said the new finding shows that some of the simplest living structures on Earth “don’t really have the concept of a limited lifespan.”