Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Bug Returns To Life After 250 Million Year Hibernation

DOE image: Westinghouse miners use a Marietta Drum Miner to cut passages and rooms 2,150 feet underground in ancient, stable salt deposits at the Carlsbad salt dome in New Mexico.
London - October 21, 2000
A Lazarus bacterium which thrived millions of years before dinosaurs walked the Earth has been brought back to life. Biologists are astonished that the 250-million-year-old bug could be revived. It suggests that if conditions are right, bacterial spores might survive indefinitely.

John Parkes, a geomicrobiologist at the University of Bristol, comments: "All the laws of chemistry tell you that the complex molecules in the spores should have degraded to very simple compounds such as carbon dioxide."

He wonders that if it is proven that spores can survive this long, why should they die at all? "Where else are these dormant organisms waiting to be reawakened?"

Born survivor
The born-again bacterium is unknown to science and has provisionally been named Bacillus permians, to denote the geological period from which it originates.

"It is alive and, to the best of anyone's knowledge, there's no other organism that's been around that long," says Russell Vreeland, the scientist who discovered the bacterium. Its nearest "ancient" rivals are bacterial babes by comparison, just 25 to 40 million years old (New Scientist, 17 May 1997, p 7).

Vreeland and his colleagues at West Chester University in Pennsylvania isolated the ancient bacterium from the Salado salt formation at Carlsbad, New Mexico, in an underground cavern used for storing nuclear waste.

While the salt crystals were forming 250 million years ago, bacterial spores in a drop of water became trapped in a cavity in the salt - a feature known as a fluid inclusion. The layer where the crystal was found is 560 metres down a shaft leading to the repository.

Under scrupulously sterile conditions, Vreeland liberated the spores from their hibernation and squirted them onto growth medium. The spores grew into familiar rod-shaped bacillus bacteria.

"I think the cell wall is a little thicker than in normal bacillus bacteria," he says. Vreeland is now comparing the genes of the ancient bug with those of two contemporary relatives: Bacillus marismortui, from the Dead Sea, and Virgibacillus pantothenticus.

More at: Nature (vol 407, p 897)

This article appeared in the October 21 issue of New Scientist New Scientist. Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved. The material on this page is provided by New Scientist and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written authorization from New Scientist.

Related Links
SpaceDaily
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Astrobiologists Take Interdisciplinary Approach To Biosignatures
Moffett Field - October. 4, 2000
A team of interdisciplinary astrobiologists from NASA and other agencies is homing in on recognizing the microbial biosignatures for life, making it easier someday to identify life on other planets.



Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only






Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.