SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
Slo-Mo Microbes Extend the Frontiers of Life
from Nature News
Most humans would struggle to last for much more than a minute under water without coming up for air, whereas some seals can manage more than an hour--but a microbial community living tens of metres beneath the Pacific Ocean floor can do even better.
Using so little oxygen that they barely qualify as life, the microbes, discovered by Hans Røy and his colleagues of the Centre for Geomicrobiology at Aarhus University in Denmark, have exceptionally low metabolic rates. And biomass turnover--the replacement of the building blocks essential to life--occurs only once every few hundred or even every few thousand years.
Microbes require oxygen to generate the energy to maintain an electric potential across their membrane and to keep their enzymes and DNA ticking over, so the researchers think that the sea-floor critters may be living at the absolute minimum energy requirement needed to subsist. And they must be doing something right: the community of microbial couch potatoes, described today in Science, is 86 million years old.
Connect With Us:
PODCASTS: Expanding With the Cosmos
Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.
To view all multimedia content, click "Latest Multimedia."
Receive notification when new content is posted from the entire website, or choose from the customized feeds available.