Mysterious life forms in deep sea `discovered`

Scientists claim to have discovered mysterious life forms -- gigantic amoebas -- at one of the deepest locations on Earth.

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2011, 17:55 PM IST

Washington: Scientists claim to have discovered mysterious life forms -- gigantic amoebas -- at one of the deepest locations on Earth.

A team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography documented the deepest known existence of xenophyophores, single-celled animals exclusively found in deep-sea environments during a July 2011 voyage to the Pacific Ocean`s Mariana Trench, the deepest region on the planet.

Xenophyophores are noteworthy for their size, with individual cells often exceeding 10 centimeters, their extreme abundance on the seafloor and their role as hosts for a
variety of organisms.

The team spotted the life forms at depths up to 10,641 meters within the Sirena Deep of the Mariana Trench. They say xenophyophores are the largest individual cells in existence.

"The research has demonstrated that these organisms play host to diverse multicellular organisms. Thus identification of these gigantic cells in one of the deepest marine
environments on the planet opens up a new habitat for further study of biodiversity, biotechnological potential and extreme environment adaptation," team leader Doug Bartlett said.

The xenophyophores are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to considerations of the nature and diversity of life at extreme depths, say the scientists.

PTI