Life's Chemical Kitchen

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Science  14 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5673, pp. 972-973
DOI: 10.1126/science.1098112

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The submergence vehicle Alvin provided a view of life in the inhospitable conditions of the deep ocean. How is this life sustained? In her perspective, Sherwood Lollar describes new work (Foustoukos and Seyfried) that provides experimental evidence for production of abiogenic hydrocarbons in H-rich aqueous systems such as hydrothermal vents and aging ocean-floor deposits. Such geologically sourced Hand hydrocarbons may support chemolithotrophic life on Earth and be an analog for microbial ecosystems on other planets.