Newly discovered worlds of microbes far beneath the ocean floor, inside old basaltic rocks, could point to a greater likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe. Featuring deep biosphere researchers Karen Lloyd, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Virginia Edgcomb, Martin Fisk, Steve D’Hondt, William Orsi, Yohey Suzuki, Jason Sylvan, Tullis Onstott and Jennifer Biddle. Reprinted in The Atlantic.
Featuring C-DEBI scientists Kenneth Nealson, Alfred Spormann and Annette Rowe.
Scientists have figured out how microbes can suck energy from rocks. Such life-forms might be more widespread than anyone anticipated.
Last year, biophysicist Moh El-Naggar and his graduate student Yamini Jangir plunged beneath South Dakota’s Black Hills into an old gold mine that is now more famous as a home to a dark matter detector. Unlike most scientists who make pilgrimages to the Black Hills these days, El-Naggar and Jangir weren’t there to hunt for subatomic particles. They came in search of life.
In the darkness found a mile underground, the pair traversed the mine’s network of passages in search of a rusty metal pipe. They siphoned some of the pipe’s ancient water, directed it into a vessel, and inserted a variety of electrodes. They hoped the current would lure their prey, a little-studied microbe that can live off pure electricity.