Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New life discovered in the deep Mediterranean

13.01.2005


Scientists have discovered a new group of microbes thriving in extreme conditions deep in the Mediterranean Sea. Their existence in such hostile environments hints at the possibility of life on other planets.



The European consortium carrying out the three-year Biodeep project, which includes researchers from the University of Essex, now plans to test how the microbes tolerate these unique conditions. The group hopes their adaptations could be exploited in medicine, agriculture or other biotechnological applications.

The researchers tested four ‘brine lakes’ with salt concentrations ten times higher than seawater, a lack of oxygen, and a pressure 400 times greater than atmospheric pressure. These basins in the sea-bed east of Sicily are some 4km below sea level.


The European Commission-funded study aimed to discover whether the brine lakes, because their high densities prevent them mixing with the overlying seawater, represented isolated habitats in which novel life forms had evolved.

The evidence of life in one basin, the Discovery basin, which contained a high concentration of the chemical magnesium chloride, particularly surprised the researchers.

Terry McGenity, the lead scientist of the Essex group, said: ‘This preliminary evidence for life in Discovery brine, in combination with the recent finding of magnesium salts on Mars, and the possibility of a magnesium-rich subsurface ocean on Europa, one of the moons of the planet Jupiter, is tantalising, and has interesting implications for possible life on other planets.’

The research consortium, consisting of scientists from institutions in the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, France, Germany and the UK, made three research cruises to carry out the first detailed study of these deep-sea lakes and to sample and characterize the organisms living there.

Their findings are reported in the current issue (7 January) of the leading research journal Science. A number of new types of microbes, including a completely new evolutionary line, the MSBL1 group of Archaea, were discovered.

Professor Ken Timmis, from the University of Essex and the German Research Centre for Biotechnology, said: ‘Microbes are the most diverse forms of life, and have proven to be a rich source of products and activities that find applications in biotechnology, such as antibiotics and other drugs used in medicine, enzymes used in the manufacture of chemicals, and metabolites used in the food industry. This new diversity represents new potential for biotechnological applications.’

Jenny Grinter | alfa
Further information:
http://www.essex.ac.uk/news

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>