South Africa: bacteria which don’t need the sun found in gold mine


Desulfotomaculum

From New Scientist:

The first known organisms that live totally independently of the sun have been discovered deep in a South African gold mine.

The bacteria exist without the option of photosynthesis by using radioactive uranium to convert water molecules to useable energy.

Similar life forms may exist on other planets, experts speculate.

The bacteria live in ancient water trapped in a crack in basalt rock, 3 to 4 kilometres down.

Scientists from Princeton University in New Jersey, US, and colleagues analysed water from the fissure after it was penetrated by a narrow exploratory shaft in the Mponeng gold mine near Johannesburg, South Africa.

The shaft was then closed.

There were many species of bacteria present, but RNA sequencing showed most were a previously-unknown type of bacteria dubbed Desulfotomaculum.

“Similar microbes have been detected in many subsurface environments,” study leader Li-Hung Lin, now at National Taiwan University, told New Scientist.

“What is unique in our study is that this microbial community doesn’t depend on photosynthetic products.”

See also here.

Soil bacteria: here.

Microorganisms in Iron Mountain mine in California: here.

Common ancestry of plants and bacteria: here.

New bacterium species in Yellowstone: here.

Sunless but livable planets? See here.

East Stoke Fen nature reserve is coming under the microscope of scientists from Queen Marys’ School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, based at the Freshwater Biological Association‘s River Laboratory. They have already found over 30 species of invertebrates smaller than half a millimetre (so called meiofauna) and over 100 single-celled species (ciliates) in less than two months: here.

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