Deep Biosphere Harbors Active, Growing Communities of Microorganisms
(Click to enlarge) A cell’s DNA carries the instructions, or genes, to make the proteins that are needed to build cell structures and to perform necessary functions. To make a protein, the instructions in the DNA are transcribed, or copied, to a molecule of messenger RNA (mRNA). Other molecules in the cell then help translate those instructions to assemble the protein by stringing together more than 20 different kinds of amino acids in a specific sequence. Messenger RNA provides vital clues about the processes a cell uses to survive, because it shows which genes are being used at a given time.
(Illustration by Katherine Joyce, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The deep biosphere—the realm of sediments far below the seafloor—harbors a vast ecosystem of bacteria, archaea, and fungi that are actively metabolizing, proliferating, and moving, according a new study by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Delaware (UD).
(From WHOI) – “This is the first molecular evidence for active cell division in the deep biosphere,” says WHOI postdoctoral investigator Bill Orsi, who was the lead author on the study. Previous studies and models had suggested cells were alive, but whether the cells were actually dividing or not had remained elusive. Read the full story »