BEIJING, May 15 (Xinhua) — Scientists have discovered a single-celled methane-eating microorganism in samples of volcanic rock on the south pacific floor, a mysterious microbe found deep in the Earth that could be key to exploring life forms on other planets,media reported. Typically, nearly 100 bacteria may be found in each cubic centimeter of mud extracted from the ocean floor, but in the South Pacific undersea volcanic rock samples, nearly 10 billion bacteria are found in each cubic centimeter sample.
Researchers have found microbes in rock fissures deep in the South Pacific ocean floor, which may be close to potential life on Mars.
In 2010, during an ocean survey carried out by the Ocean Integrated Drilling Project (IODP), scientists boarded a huge vessel and crossed the Pacific Ocean, collecting seafloor samples using 3.5-mile-long metal tubes, which drill edged 122 meters deep into the oceanic crust and excavated core samples dating back 104 million years.
Scientists disinfected the geonuclear samples to avoid contamination, cut them into thin slices and dyed them with a special dye to reveal the physical characteristics of DNA, observed under a microscope the green-colored microorganisms, and genome-wide DNA analysis revealed exactly how many microbes were trapped in the rocks.
The seabed is an amazingly complex ecosystem that is home to many forms of life. Underwater volcanoes spew magma into the icy ocean, and the magma gradually cracks and sinks to the bottom of the sea. Clay minerals fill the fibula cracks, providing the perfect habitat for oxygen-demanding bacteria, which feed on oxygen and organic matter, so there are many kinds of microorganisms around deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
But scientists have not found such single-celled microbes near hydrothermal vents, which have independent sources. Mysterious microbes and extreme habitats suggest that similar conditions may exist on other planets in the solar system, such as basalt, the same kind of volcanic rock that forms the ocean crust, and abundant methane on the surface of Mars, where clay minerals are vital to the breeding of life.
Fortunately, a new group of Mars rovers will be searching for signs of life on the surface of Mars in the coming years, with NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover to be launched in July and the Rosalind Franklin Mars rover, jointly developed by the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency, to be launched in 2022, to survey Martian soil and search for evidence of microbial-like life.