It did not form in 175 million years … the discovery of an extraordinary bacterium that lives underground

It did not form in 175 million years ... the discovery of an extraordinary bacterium that lives underground

These bacteria are considered to be the best example of microbial evolutionary stagnation, as they have special mechanisms that help combat mutations.

In a scene similar to the one we see in science fiction novels, genetic analysis revealed a different type of bacteria – collected from 3 different continents – did not form because they were last together in the same terrain, i.e. the bacteria were in an “evolutionary stagnation.” For at least 175 million years, it has been the only known organism that has not been affected by evolution over a long period of time.

It was released Study On April 6, the official journal of the International Society of Microbiological Ecology, ISME, found that the discovery could have a profound impact on biotechnology and the scientific understanding of microbial evolution, as it shows how little we know about our strange and diverse planet. …

A colony of bacteria isolated from groundwater 2.8 km below the Earth’s surface (NASA)

Very rare bacteria

This bizarre bacterium is known by the scientific name Candidatus desulforodis atox viter, and is derived from a science fiction novel published in 1864 entitled Journey to the Center of the Earth.

It was first discovered in 2008 after being extracted from groundwater 2.8 km below the earth’s surface in the Moboning gold mine in South Africa, and it lives in water-filled rock pits.

To be alive; These bacteria derive their energy from chemical reactions, i.e. the decomposition of water molecules by “ionizing radiation”, resulting from the radioactive decay of uranium, potassium and thorium in the surrounding rocks. This is one of the few unknown organisms. Depending on the sunlight for the food.

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It is considered to be the only species that creates an ecosystem that is beneficial to single organisms because it is 99.9% of the microorganisms found.

Direct fossils

The team wanted to know more about these bacteria, how they evolved and adapted, so the research team collected 126 microorganisms from deep groundwater samples from sites in Siberia, California and South Africa, sorting and comparing their genetic sequences.

They initially thought that by comparing microorganisms coming from different continents in different natural and chemical environments – they would find diversified ways in which bacteria could develop. Each of them has been modified to suit its own environmental conditions.

Said Ramonas Stepanoskas, microbiologist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Oceanography in Maine. News release According to the company – “We wanted to use this information to understand how they are formed and the types of environmental conditions that lead to the type of genetic adaptation.”

But the results of the analyzes came as a big surprise to scientists; They found that the microorganisms on the three continents were almost identical, compared to the group genes.

“The best explanation we have at the moment is that these microbes did not change much from their physical locations when they disintegrated about 175 million years ago, during the decay of the supercontinent, Pangea,” said Stefana aus Skos. And “they appear to be living fossils from those days. It seems utterly insane and contrary to the contemporary understanding of microbial evolution.”

Bacteria isolated from mononing gold mine near Johannesburg, South Africa (“JMK” – Wikimedia)

Evolutionary stagnation

The team believes that this is an even better example of microbial evolutionary stagnation, and that this is because these bacteria have special mechanisms that help fight mutations.

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“This finding shows that we need to be careful when we speculate about the speed of evolution and how we interpret the tree of life,” said Eric Beckraft, a microbiologist at the University of Northern Alabama.

“These results are a strong reminder that the different microbial branches we observe in the tree of life may differ greatly over time from the last common ancestor … Realizing this is important in understanding the life history of the earth,” he added.

This discovery has potential applications in biotechnology, ranging from diagnostic tests to gene therapy.

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Cary Douglas is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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