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Microbes flourish at deepest ocean site

At bottom of Mariana Trench, bacteria prosper despite crushing pressure, isolation

9:55am, March 19, 2013

In the darkest, deepest part of the ocean, microscopic life thrives under extreme pressures and isolation from the world above. Surprisingly, bacteria in the West Pacific’s Challenger Deep gobble up more oxygen than does the life in a nearby shallower area, researchers report March 17 in Nature Geoscience.

The study shows the ability of some microbial life to make the most of a difficult environment, says Tim Shank of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who was not involved in the study. “They had to evolve to live there,” Shank says. He wonders whether the adaptations necessary to live in the ocean’s deepest spot first emerged in the trenches or if

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