Microbes buried beneath the sea floor for more than 100 million years are still alive, a new study reveals. When brought back to the lab and fed, they started to multiply. The microbes are oxygen-loving species that somehow exist on what little of the gas diffuses from the ocean surface deep into the seabed.
The discovery raises the “insane” possibility, as one of the scientists put it, that the microbes have been sitting in the sediment dormant, or at least slowly growing without dividing, for eons.
The new work demonstrates “microbial life is very persistent, and often finds a way to survive,” says Virginia Edgcomb, a microbial ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who was not involved in the work