Antarctic ecosystem holds unusual microbes

Long isolated, they thrive in dark, salty water and breathe iron

3:45pm, April 16, 2009

A frigid, sulfate-rich pool of anoxic, hypersaline water that hasn’t seen the sun since it was capped by a 400-meter-thick Antarctic glacier at least 1.5 million years ago is host to microbes that derive energy by breathing iron scraped from bedrock.

“This briny pond is a unique sort of time capsule,” says Jill Mikucki, a geomicrobiologist now at Dartmouth College. “I don’t know of any other environment quite like this on earth.”

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from Science News