There is something I love about extremophiles…

Not exactly sure what it is I love so much about extremophiles. I think it’s the tenacity of life that really draws me to them. If all life needs is just heat and water (and in some cases, note even that), then the probability of undiscovered life in our own solar system (let alone the rest of the universe) rises dramatically. A recently discovered bacteria community living in a mine in South Africa is simply amazing. To quote part of the article:

A community of the bacteria Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator has been discovered 2.8 kilometres beneath the surface of the Earth in fluid-filled cracks of the Mponeng goldmine in South Africa. Its 60 °C home is completely isolated from the rest of the world, and devoid of light and oxygen.

Chivian’s analysis shows that D. audaxviator gets its energy from the radioactive decay of uranium in the surrounding rocks. It has genes to extract carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide and other genes to fix nitrogen, which comes from the surrounding rocks. Both carbon and nitrogen are essential building blocks for life as we know it, and are used in the building blocks of proteins, amino acids. D. audaxviator has genes to produce all the amino acids it needs.

Mmmm… radioactive decay… the other other white meat!

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