Geomicrobiology: Life Goes to Extremes in the Deep Earth--and Elsewhere?

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Science  02 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5313, pp. 703-704
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5313.703

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In recent years, microbiologists and geologists have teamed up to probe the deepest limits of life. They have found organisms trapped almost 3 kilometers beneath the state of Virginia for millions of years, microbes living off bare rock and water 1.5 kilometers down in the Columbia Plateau, and signs of life subsisting on glass and mineral-rich water beneath the midocean ridges. Isolated in the depths for millions of years, microbes have adapted with exotic metabolisms and very slow rates of reproduction. And they are shaping the deep Earth and its waters to a degree that researchers are only beginning to determine.