Bacteria that haven’t eaten for 86 million years found
London: Researchers including one of Indian origin have discovered deep-sea bacteria at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean that can almost survive without food - they haven’t eaten for an incredible 86 million years.
The bacteria were unearthed when researchers drilled into a layer of soft red clay at the bottom of the Pacific Gyre.
It is an area of ocean where nearly nothing reaches the seabed and most plankton that die in the water dissolve long before any pieces of them can reach the seafloor far below.
Only very rarely does even a single particle land in any given spot on the bottom, the Daily Mail reported.
“If you imagine that a grain of sediment falls on the surface, it will take a thousand years before the next grain will sit on top of it,” said Hans Roy, from Aarhus University in Denmark.
Roy was part of a voyage in 2009 to sample that ancient sediment and found living bacteria buried in that clay - despite there being almost no nutrients down there for them to feed on.
At a rate of around 1 millimeter per 1,000 years sediment builds up on the ocean floor. So when the team extracted their 90ft deep cores of sediment they found the ends were tens of millions of years old.
“They left the surface 86 million years ago with one lunch box, and they’re still eating out of it.”
“That’s so much slower than our own, that in our eyes it looks like suspended animation.
“It’s like they’re splitting a pie, and they keep splitting in half and in half and in half, but nobody ever eats the last crumble. It’s quite remarkable.”
Roy and colleagues insisted that these bacteria may have the world’s slowest metabolism, with barely enough oxygen and nutrients to keep them alive.
“I weigh 140 pounds, and I eat a few pounds of food every day, so it will take me a month or two to eat my own weight,” Roy said.
“These organisms will take a thousand years to eat their own weight.
“In our eyes it looks like suspended animation.”
Roy cannot exactly tell how old the individual bacteria he studies are. They may have been reproducing exceedingly slowly since the time of the dinosaurs.
Or the individuals could be millions of years old, rebuilding themselves just fast enough to mend the inevitable damage of aging.
In any case, these microscopic life-forms have life cycles that challenge human intuition.
“That’s so much slower than our own, that in our eyes it looks like suspended animation,” Roy said.
“This is pretty much like if you would stand up and look at a tree to see if it grows at all, you won’t see anything because you’re looking at the wrong time scale,” Roy added.
The study has been published in Science journal.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- One year of Modi govt: PM promises to fulfil aspirations
- Watch: Mumbai cops find new secret agents in housewives!
- Hundreds die as heat wave continues in India
- 2G scam: Ex-TRAI chief alleges Manmohan Singh had warned him to cooperate
- Pranab Mukherjee defends Bofors scam, says it was just a media trial
- Salman Khan attends sister Arpita's wedding reception in Mandi
- Zee Media's mega survey on Modi govt
- Zee Media Exclusive: Vidya Balan chats about 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani'
- Para athlete Deepa Malik complains of callous service by Air India
- Smriti Irani visits Amethi, promises to pay insurance money to 25,000 women
- I eat beef, can somebody stop me?: Kiren Rijiju hits back at Naqvi
- One year of Modi govt: Amit Shah addresses media
- Delhi: Visually impaired boy scores 91.4% in CBSE 12th Board exams
- MP: 14-year-old boy works as bonded labour since 2009
- BBV: What challenges lie ahead of Modi govt?
- One year of NDA govt: PM Modi writes open letter to nation, promises to transform India
- Arpita-Aayush wedding reception: Salman Khan spreads love in Mandi, says `hum aapke hain`
- World optimistic about India: PM Narendra Modi on 1 year of NDA govt
- MSBSHSE Class 12th HSC results 2015 to be declared at 1pm tomorrow
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 (cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in) postponed?
- Bharatiya Janata Party lacks majority for Ram Temple, Article 370: Amit Shah
- Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at one year of Modi govt, wishes 'happy birthday' to 'suit-boot ki sarkar'
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 to be announced on May 28
- Check mahresult.nic.in for MSBSHSE Maharashtra Class 12 HSC Result 2015
- AAP govt moves resolution against MHA notification: As it happened
- Maharashtra MSBSHSE HSC Result 2015 on mahresult.nic.in
- Heatwave kills 90 more in Andhra, Telangana; toll crosses 800
- Gujjars adamant on holding talks in Bayana; rail tracks remain blocked
- CBSE 10th result to be declared tomorrow
- I was misquoted, says Kiren Rijiju on 'beef' remark