Professor Discovers How Microbes Survive at Bare Minimum
Beneath the ocean floor is a desolate place with no oxygen and sunlight. Yet microbes have thrived in this environment for millions of years. Scientists have puzzled over how these microbes survive, but today there are more answers.
A study led by Karen Lloyd, an assistant professor of microbiology, reveals that these microscopic life-forms called archaea slowly eat tiny bits of protein. The study was released today in Nature.
The finding has implications for understanding the bare minimum conditions needed to support life.
“Subseafloor microbes are some of the most common organisms on earth,” said Lloyd. “There are more of them than there are stars or sand grains. If you go to a mud flat and stick your toes into the squishy mud, you’re touching these archaea. Even though they’ve literally been right under our noses for all of human history, we’ve never known what they’re doing down there.”