Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jurassic Genes Awakened! Rip Van Winkle Micro-Bugs Are Back!

Now, that's a nap! From the wonderful science site Neatorama (click me post title) it is reported that bacteria Hermeniimonas glacei asleep at the bottom of a Greenland glacier have been told 'Get Your Ass, Up and Do Something! It's Nice Out!'

The new bacteria species was found nearly 2 miles (3 km) beneath a Greenland glacier, where temperatures can dip well below freezing, pressure soars, and food and oxygen are scarce.

"We don’t know what state they were in," said study team member Jean Brenchley of Pennsylvania State University. "They could’ve been dormant, or they could’ve been slowly metabolizing, but we don’t know for sure."

Dormant would mean the bacteria were in a spore-like state in which there’s not a lot of metabolism going on, so the bacteria wouldn’t be reproducing much. It’s possible the bacteria could have been slowly metabolizing and replicating. [...]

To coax the bacteria back to life, Brenchley, Jennifer Loveland-Curtze and their Penn State colleagues incubated the samples at 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) for seven months, followed by more than four months at 41 degrees F (5 degrees C).

The resulting colonies of the originally purple-brown bacteria, now named Herminiimonas glaciei, are alive and well. "We were able to recover it and get it to grow in our laboratory," Brenchley said. "It was viable."

Jeanna Bryner of LiveScience has the fascinating story: Link

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