Life-Forms "Resurrected" After Millennia in Ice
The ancient bacteria were found frozen in the world's oldest known tracts of ice, the debris-covered glaciers of Antarctica.
It is possible that some of the microbes were capable of maintaining their metabolism within tiny droplets of water suspended in the ice, marine microbiologist Kay Bidle said.
Bidle and colleagues retrieved and revived two samples of bacteria from the glacial ice. The first was a hundred thousand years old, and the second was around eight million years old.
The eight-million-year-old bacteria were alive, but barely.
Their genes were severely damaged from long exposure to cosmic radiation, which is higher at Earth's poles.
The radiation bombarded the bacteria's DNA with high-energy particles, which broke apart the DNA's chemical bonds and hacked it into shorter pieces.
Most of the bacteria in the samples probably blew over from African deserts, said study co-author Paul Falkowski, a biochemist at Rutgers said.
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