Avatar of rosso

Russian scientists have discovered ‘unknown’ bacteria that has never been seen before

0 rating, 0 votes0 rating, 0 votes (0 rating, 0 votes, rated)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading ... Loading ...

March 8, 2013 in Science

by

Russian scientists believe they may have  discovered new life forms sealed off for 14 millions of years in a subglacial  lake deep under the Antarctic ice.

Scientists say the icy darkness of Lake  Vostok, under some 3,700 metres of ice, may provide a glimpse of the  planet  before the Ice Age and clues to life on other planets.

‘After excluding all known contaminants, bacterial DNA was found that does not match any known species in world  databases,’ Sergei Bulat of the St Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute  told a  Russian news agency.

Drilling into history: Russian researchers have reached Lake Vostok, and now believe they may have found evidence of previously unseen bacterial life in water samples - although they need further research to confirm this
Drilling into history: Russian researchers have reached  Lake Vostok, and now believe they may have found evidence of previously unseen  bacterial life in water samples – although they need further research to confirm  this

 

The head of the drilling rig used by the Russian research team to drill to the Vostok underground lake at the Vostock research camp
The head of the drilling rig used by the Russian  research team to drill to the Vostok underground lake at the Vostock research  camp

‘If it (the bacteria) had been found on Mars,  then without a doubt we  would have said there is life on Mars – but this is DNA  from Earth,’ he  said.

‘We are calling this life form unidentified  or unclassified.’

The Russian discovery came from analysing  water that froze onto the end  of the drill bit used to bore through to Vostok -  the largest of a  network of hundreds of lakes under the ice cap that acts like  a blanket  trapping the Earth’s geothermal heat.

Bulat told RIA that scientists are waiting  for more samples from the lake to confirm their discovery.

Because of the technology used to keep from  polluting the pristine lake, Russia will only obtain clean water samples -  uncontaminated by  drilling fluid – for analysis later this year.

To answer concerns kerosene and anti-freeze  from the borehole would seep into the lake, Russian engineers withdrew the drill  to allow the water  to percolate up into the borehole and freeze there, only  returning this  year to collect it.

But Bulat said the unknown microbes were  found after separating out  species of bacteria that are known to exist in the  drilling fluid.

‘When we tried to identify the DNA, it did  not coincide with any of  known species. It’s degree of similarity was less than  86 percent,’  Bulat told RIA.

‘That is practically zero when working with  DNA. A level of 90 percent tells us the organism is unknown.’

 

Frozen samples from deeper in the borehole  collected during this year’s  Antarctic summer season in February are now being  carried back by boat  and are due in St Petersburg in May.

‘If we again identify the same group of  organism in that pure sample of  water, then we can confidently say we have  found new life on Earth,’  Bulat said.

Scientists from the United States and Britain  are close on Moscow’s  heels to probe what life may exist in one of the most  extreme  environments on Earth.

The Vostock research camp in Antarctica: Russian scientists have drilled into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years and say they may have found a new form of life
The Vostock research camp in Antarctica: Russian  scientists have drilled into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has  been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years and say they may have  found a new form of life
An aerial view of the Vostock research camp in Antarctica where Russian have drilled into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok
An aerial view of the Vostock research camp in  Antarctica where Russian have drilled into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake  Vostok

 

LAKE VOSTOCK

Vostok Station was set up by the Russians in  1956, and their seismic soundings soon suggested there was an area of liquid  underneath.

However, Russian specialists, supported by  their British counterparts, finally discovered Lake Vostok in 1996. 

Sonar  and satellite images later proved the  lake to be one of the world’s  largest freshwater reservoirs.

With its area reaching 15,000 sq. km and a  depth exceeding 1,200 meters,  Lake Vostok is one of the biggest among 370  sub-glacial lakes in  Antarctica.

This year, a U.S. expedition said they had  seen living cells under a  microscope in field samples taken from the shallower  subglacial Lake  Whillans, but more study is needed to determine what kinds of  bacteria  they are and how they live.

A British effort to reach a third body, Lake  Ellsworth, was called off in December because of problems drilling.

What life is found in the icy depths may  provide the best answer yet to  whether life can exist in the extreme conditions  on Mars or Jupiter’s  moon Europa.

In February Russian researchers became the  first in the world to reach the waters of Lake Vostok after more than decades of  drilling work.

They managed to reach the fresh ice at a  depth of 3383 meters and took samples at 3,406 meters. Ice formed as the water  from the lake rose into the hole due to upward-pressure in the crack researchers  drilled last February.

Last year Russian scientists managed to drill  through 3700 meters of ice, reach the surface of the lake and take 40 liters of  prehistoric water.

A general view of the Vostock research camp in Antarctica, where researchers have spent years drilling into the ice
A general view of the Vostock research camp in  Antarctica, where researchers have spent years drilling into the ice

 

Russian specialists, supported by their  British counterparts, discovered Lake Vostok back in 1996. Sonar and satellite  images later proved the lake to be one of the world’s largest freshwater  reservoirs.

With its area reaching 15,000 sq. km and a  depth exceeding 1,200 meters, Lake Vostok is one of the biggest among 370  sub-glacial lakes in Antarctica.

In 1998 scientists had to halt the drilling  just 130 meters from the lake’s surface after alarming concerns the ancient and  unblemished waters risked being polluted if special precautions were not  taken.

The relevant technology was developed only in  2003 in St. Petersburg, and work resumed in 2005 after further  tests.

source:new-form-life-underground-antarctic-lake


Infowars.com Videos:

Comment on this article:

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.