In 2010, Japanese scientists from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program’s Expedition (IODP) Expedition 329 lowered a drill through nearly 6,000 meters of seawater.
The CBB sank into pelagic clay, according to a recent study, they raised bacteria from the sediments that managed to revive .
Several geological eras later
The results of the study , published in Nature Communications , indicate that very few bacteria were found, just between 100 and 3,000 per cubic centimeter. But when feeding them, most of them were revived.
In fact, they doubled in number every five days (E. coli bacteria in the laboratory double in about 20 minutes), increasing in number up to 10,000 times.
Surprisingly, most microbes were, like us, oxygen-breathing forms. In fact, the sediment from which they were extracted was full of oxygen, but what they lacked was food .
Based on all the evidence – the tight space, the lack of food, and the rapid resuscitation – the researchers believe that it is likely that most of the bacteria in this depleted sediment have been alive but inactive for at least 100 million years. These microbes, protected from radiation and cosmic rays by a thick layer of ocean and sediment, had survived several geological eras. And the only observable side effect is that they reproduced a bit more slowly .
Recall that 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by marine sediments, the microbial residents of which account for between one-tenth and one-half of all the Earth’s microbial biomass. I mean, there are a lot of Methuselah microbes down there waiting to be discovered (and reanimated).