January 16, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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Life in the most inhospitable places on Earth: what do microbes feed under the ice of Antarctica?

Even in one of the harshest places on the planet, Antarctica, Scientists have found life. Specifically, it was located in the depths of glaciers, in a lake that was discovered near the Russian polar station, Vostok.

The lake lies under a three-kilometre ice layer and can be home to up to 3,500 different species of organisms. To make matters worse, they discovered an entirely new type of bacteria among living things, called W123-10. But where do these organisms get their food? This question has also been answered by pioneering research by scientists from University of Bristol.

Researchers have found that erosion of ancient sediments at the bottom of the lake can be harmful to microbes. main source of food, which was not known before. This lake is called Lake Whillans and is actually only part of an interconnected water system. Scientists speculate that sediment breakdown and nutrient release may benefit not only the lake itself, but also other sites downstream.

Decomposition of the sediment releases food for microbial organisms, which travel downstream and Other places supply as well. As a result, microbial communities of life can thrive in other lakes associated with Wylans.

harsh living conditions

Scientists were able to repeat this process under laboratory conditions. They obtained sediments from the lake that they crushed. Then it was kept at 0 °C and oxygen-free. Research has shown that after 41 days of sediment They released up to a quarter of the methane that living things need to liveNS. Large amounts of hydrogen and carbon dioxide were also excreted from the sediments. These substances are consumed by living organisms, which on the other hand excrete methane.

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Only two studies focused on the erosion process under glaciers, and also suggested that weathering and decomposition of sediments It can provide nutrients for this type of ecosystem. However, the new study is the first to use ancient marine sediments, but the concentration of important materials is somewhat the same as in previous studies.

The researchers add that their research does not indicate the extent to which sediment erosion occurs under Antarctic glaciers. Scientists have only been able to discover that when they decompose, the very important nutrients, which are central to the ecosystem in lakes under the layers of ice, can be released into the water. They are currently working on a new study to determine the exact number of chemical reactions that will occur after the sediment decomposes. At the same time, they plan to find out How do these chemical reactions differ with respect to the type of sediment.

The research has applications not only on Earth but also in space. It is believed that the same types of oceans can be found in the depths of the ice of Enceladus. If we understand how living things exist in our country, it is possible It could also run under the surface this month.

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