Planet Earth

Deep-sea bacteria redefine life in the slow lane

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongMay 17, 2012 6:05 PM

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Your laziest days are positively frenetic compared to the lifestyle of some deep-sea bacteria, buried in the sediments of the Pacific Ocean. These microbes are pushing a slow-going lifestyle to an extreme. They subsist on vanishingly low levels of oxygen, in sediments that have not received any new food sources since the time of the dinosaurs. And yes, they survive. Not only that, but these microbes could make up 90 per cent of those on the planet. “We’re looking at the most common forms of life on this planet, and we know almost nothing about them,” said Hans Røy, who has been studying them for many years. Now, Røy has finally measured just how slow their metabolism really is. I’ve written about this discovery for The Scientist, so head over there for the full story. Image by Shelly Carpenter, NOAA Ocean Explorer

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