Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deep ocean floor research yields promising results for microbiologists

Date:
August 11, 2010
Source:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Research by microbiologists is revealing how marine microbes live in a mysterious area of the Earth: the realm just beneath the deep ocean floor. The ocean crust may be the largest biological reservoir on our planet.

Research by microbiologists is revealing how marine microbes live in a mysterious area of the Earth: the realm just beneath the deep ocean floor. The ocean crust may be the largest biological reservoir on our planet.

Beth Orcutt, a post-doctoral fellow at Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Southern California, presented her new findings about this little researched realm at Goldschmidt 2010, an annual conference sponsored by a number of international geochemical societies and hosted this year by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"I think this research is exciting because it offers us a glimpse into a habitat on Earth that we know next to nothing about," Orcutt said. "If you consider how much ocean crust there is on Earth, and how much of that is hydrologically active, then this environment could be one of the most massive habitats for microbial life on Earth. There may be new species of life and new types of metabolism that we haven't discovered yet."

There has been limited research into this deep marine crust, so Orcutt and her colleagues have developed new hole-boring technologies to study microbial life living beneath rock on the seafloor. Orcutt must use a robotic submarine to reach this realm, buried under 2660 meters (1⅔ miles) of water. Then she must drill through 260 meters (850 feet) of sediment. The microbes Orcutt and her team study receive no light that far beneath the ocean floor, so part of what they are exploring is how these microscopic organisms survive in such harsh conditions.

Orcutt believes this research also can yield a new understanding of the potential for life on other planets. The subsurface under deep oceans is an extreme environment for any life to exist. Such environments may be present on other planets, so Orcutt theorizes that life might exist there in the form of microbial organisms.

"I hope that the general public will understand that the ocean isn't just a giant pond with a featureless, unexciting bottom," Orcutt said. "The seafloor and sub-seafloor are exciting environments where microbes rule. We have to develop sophisticated experiments to try to learn more about these microbial habitats, experiments which will reveal new information about how life survives and thrives on Earth and maybe about how life may exist on other planets."

This year's Goldschmidt Conference is being held during the week of June 13-18 in Knoxville. Several thousand geochemists from around the world are presenting new scientific discoveries dealing with the Earth, energy and the environment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Deep ocean floor research yields promising results for microbiologists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614074818.htm>.
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (2010, August 11). Deep ocean floor research yields promising results for microbiologists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614074818.htm
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Deep ocean floor research yields promising results for microbiologists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614074818.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday warned about the potential "catastrophe" if global warming was not dealt with in a "powerful" way. Duration: 01:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) After a year of poor rains and heavy fighting Somalia is again at risk of famine, just three years after food shortages killed 260,000 people. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) The Rockefellers — heirs to an oil fortune that made the family name a symbol of American wealth — are switching from fossil fuels to clean energy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins