The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Nov 27, 2012
 

Life where you'd least expect it: Bacteria survive ice, dark

 
 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Researchers have found bacteria thriving beneath ice, in the dark and without oxygen in a lake in Antarctica, pushing the boundaries of what was thought necessary to sustain life on Earth.

It is an extreme environment that also could exist elsewhere in our solar system, suggesting the possibility of conditions for life to exist somewhere that is not this planet.

"The discovery of this ecosystem gives us insight into other isolated, frozen environments on Earth, but it also gives us a potential model for life on other icy planets that harbor saline deposits and subsurface oceans, such as Jupiter's moon Europa," said Prof Nathaniel Ostrom, a Michigan State University zoologist who co-authored "Microbial Life at -13ºC in the Brine of an Ice-Sealed Antarctic Lake."

Prof Ostrom and company write about their discoveries in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.