10 years ago, during an expedition to the region of the Pacific whirlpool between Australia and South America, which is considered the most distant from the nearest land, scientists drilled a series of 100-meter wells in the seabed and raised several sediment cores to the surface. It is worth clarifying that the depth of the ocean in this place is about 6, 000 m.
What happened later can rightfully be considered a sensation: “dormant” microorganisms that lived on Earth more than 100 million years ago were discovered in sedimentary rocks.
According to one of the leaders of the study, Yuki Morono from the University of Rhode Island (USA), scientists were interested in two main questions:
- is life possible in such a nutrient-limited environment or is it not there?
- How long can microorganisms survive in an almost complete lack of food?
Later, they found oxygen in all the cores, which means that the sediment formed gradually, allowing oxygen to seep through the rock. Thanks to this, the microbes remained viable for tens of millions of years. After removing the microbes, they were placed in a nutrient medium, and almost all of them came to life.
Due to the limited resources, the metabolism of such microorganisms proceeds much more smoothly, they evolve much more slowly, which is understandable: their energy is barely enough to maintain existence.