In the South Pacific Gyre, where life moves very, very slowly, bacteria from were brought up from sea floor sediment at 6000 metres where they had been dormant for perhaps 100 million years:
The microbes got straight to work doing what bacteria do, and within 68 days of incubation had increased their numbers up to 10,000-fold. They doubled about every five days (E. coli bacteria in the lab double in around 20 minutes). Their progeny contained specially labeled isotopes of carbon and nitrogen that made the scientists sure that the microbes were eating what they had been offered.
It’s worth pausing to consider the meaning of these results. In this experiment, cells awoke and multiplied that settled to the bottom when pterosaurs and plesiosaurs drifted overhead. Four geologic periods had ground by, but these microbes, protected from radiation and cosmic rays by a thick coat of ocean and sediment, quietly persisted. And now, when offered a bite, they awoke and carried on as if nothing unusual had happened.Jennifer Frazer, “100-Million-Year-Old Seafloor Sediment Bacteria Have Been Resuscitated” at Scientific American
It works because they have few needs and no ambitions.
The paper is open access.