June 26, 2022

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How do seafloor microbes survive at 120 degrees Celsius?

How do seafloor microbes survive at 120 degrees Celsius?



 

Nature Communications: How do seafloor microbes survive at 120 degrees Celsius (248 Fahrenheit)?

Ocean sediments below the surface are thought to contain a large proportion of the planet’s microbes.

A previous expedition drilled sediment cores in the subduction zone of the South China Sea Trough to study what kind of extreme life exists in this habitat.

The researchers found that despite the temperature of the deepest sediments reaching as high as 120°C , there is still a small population of microorganisms thriving, although the mechanisms by which these organisms survive are unclear.

 

On January 25, 2022, the UCLA research team published a research paper titled: Rapid metabolism fosters microbial survival in the deep, hot subseafloor biosphere in the journal Nature Communications .

 

The study shows that a higher energy metabolism rate may enable a microbial population to live in sediments more than 1,000 meters below the seabed, with temperatures up to 120°C . The findings could help shed light on the survival strategies of organisms at the highest temperatures thought to be sustainable for life.

 

How do seafloor microbes survive at 120 degrees Celsius?

 

Based on previous research, Tina Treude et al. performed sensitive radiotracer experiments under highly sterile operating conditions to see how these microbes survived in these sediments.

 

They found that microbes living in deep, hot sediments had extremely high energy metabolism rates , in stark contrast to slow-metabolizing microbes previously found on the deep ocean floor.

The authors suggest that this microbial population must maintain a high metabolic rate in this extreme environment to provide the energy they need to repair cell damage caused by high temperature, and that the heating of organic matter in the sediment provides them with abundant nutrients .

 

How do seafloor microbes survive at 120 degrees Celsius?

 

The authors believe their findings have important implications for our understanding of the sediment environment below the surface and the maximum temperatures at which life can exist.

 

 

Reference :

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27802-7

How do seafloor microbes survive at 120 degrees Celsius?

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