Monday, 15 June 2009

Chryseobacterium greenlandensis

Over the weekend I was reading about ancient bacteria discovered in ice taken from more than two miles beneath the surface in Greenland. The ice was obtained by drilling what are known as ice cores down through the ice. The ice in which the bacteria was found is thought to be about 120,000 years old and the really amazing aspect of this story is that the bacteria have now been revived in a laboratory, after having been buried for such a long time. Researchers have managed to isolate and grow the bacteria in the laboratory, where they have established thriving colonies of small, purple-brown microbes.

It is thought that the prospect now arises that similar primitive lifeforms may exist in other similarly extreme environments, even on other planets like Mars, or on a moon such as Europa one of the moons of the planet Jupiter, which is believed to be covered by ice and where the conditions beneath the ice are thought to be similar to the conditions in which these bacteria were found. The microbes' ability to survive the harsh environment of a Greenland glacier for such a long period of time suggests that extraterrestrial life forms (if they exist) could survive in equally extreme environments. The study has so far revived two kinds of bacteria, which have been formally named as Herminiimonas glaciei and Chryseobacterium greenlandensis. H. glaciei is about half the size of C. greenlandensis. To read more click here.


Anonymous said...

Truly amazing. I always thought that the likelihood is in favour of life existng on other planets outside ours. The Universe is far too large for us to be alone.

Anengiyefa said...

I think the truly awesome bit is the fact that the microbes were revived after 120,000 years. Were they in a state of suspended animation or what? Why do I hear cryogenics inside my head? :)

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff - What else might be found! Really exciting.