Member Highlight: Study Shows Deep Microbes Hold Clues to Early Life

2019-02-11T15:41:25+00:00 February 11, 2019|
(Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, courtesy of University of California, Santa Cruz, US National Science Foundation, ROV Jason dive J2-711, 2013, AT26-03 cruise chief scientist Andrew Fisher)

(Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, courtesy of University of California, Santa Cruz, US National Science Foundation, ROV Jason dive J2-711, 2013, AT26-03 cruise chief scientist Andrew Fisher)

A new study has revealed how a group of deep-sea microbes provides clues to the evolution of life on Earth, according to a recent paper in The ISME Journal. Researchers used cutting-edge molecular methods to study these microbes, which thrive in the hot, oxygen-free fluids that flow through Earth’s crust.

(From Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences/ By ) — Called Hydrothermarchaeota, this group of microbes lives in such an extreme environment that they have never been cultivated in a laboratory for study. A research team from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute bypassed the problem of cultivation with genetic sequencing methods called genomics, a suite of novel techniques used to sequence large groups of genetic information. They found that Hydrothermarchaeota may obtain energy by processing carbon monoxide and sulfate, which is an overlooked metabolic strategy. The microbes use energy from this process to grow as a form of chemosynthesis.

“The majority of life on Earth is microbial, and most microbes have never been cultivated,” said Beth Orcutt, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory and one of the study’s senior authors. “These findings emphasize why single cell genomics are such important tools for discovering how a huge proportion of life functions.”

Analyzing Hydrothermarchaeota genomes revealed…

Read the full article here: https://www.bigelow.org/news/articles/2019-02-07.html