U.S. researchers said Monday that they have discovered a bacteria that live without light and without oxygen in a salt lake in Antarctica, an extremely severe climate, the same breed of bacteria may exist elsewhere in the solar system where they could find such forms of life. The bacteria lives 3,000 years “in isolation” away from any external ecosystems.
Incredible Bacteria Found in an Antarctica Frozen Lake.
The lake, called Vida, has a very high concentration of ammonia, nitrogen, hydrogen, sulfur and nitrate nitrogen oxide. The bacteria living there was discovered at a depth of 20 meters under the ice, the water has a salinity that exceeds 20% and reaches a temperature of -13 degrees Celsius.
“Lake Vida is an incredibly harsh environment. It has not been exposed to the surface for thousands, if not millions, of years,” said Mike Bentley, a professor of geology at Durham University. “If you understand life in extreme environments, you understand life better: it tells you what the controls are on life.”
High concentrations of hydrogen and nitrous oxide gas as an energy source may provide chemicals that allows the existence of an isolated bacteria, says one researcher. These gases are formed from chemical reactions in strongly salted water to nearby rocks rich in iron.
“We do not know yet anything about this geochemical process and microbial life in the frozen medium, especially in sub-zero temperatures,” said Alison Murray from the Institute for the study of deserts, University of Nevada U.S. affiliate, lead author of this study.
Despite the very low temperatures, the absence of light and high salinity, this environment contains a diverse fauna abundance of bacteria able to survive without the Sun’s energy.
Previous studies conducted in Lake Vida, located in the eastern Antarctic on McMurdo Valle, microbial ecosystems indicate that these were isolated from all external influences for nearly 3,000 years.
By contrast, other extreme ecosystems are still present in no light areas, near the hot springs that warm the ocean floor.