The microbes, which have yet to be classified and named, exist in massive undersea aquifers—networks of channels in porous rock beneath the ocean where water continually churns. About one-third of the Earth’s biomass is thought to exist in this largely uncharted environment.
Microbes that breathe sulfate—that is, gain energy by reacting sulfate with organic (carbon-containing) compounds—are thought to be some of the oldest types of organisms on Earth. Other species of sulfate-breathing microbes can be found in marshes and hydrothermal vents.
Smelly but works.
Like the microbes on the forest floor that break down leaf litter and dead organisms, the microbes in the ocean also break down organic—that is, carbon-based—material like dead fish and algae. Unlike their counterparts, however, the microbes beneath the ocean crust often lack the oxygen that is used on land to effect the necessary chemical reaction.
Instead, these microbes can use sulfate to break down carbon from decaying biological material that sinks to the sea bottom and makes its way into the crustal aquifer, producing carbon dioxide. More
That’s the thing about life. It seems to want to live, so always finds a way.
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life)
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