Microbes from 'deadest spot in the ocean' come back to life after 100 million years

Researchers (from left) Yuki Morono, Xiao-Hua Zhang and Lisa Crowder preparing core samples taken from the bottom of the South Pacific Gyre for analysis.
Researchers (from left) Yuki Morono, Xiao-Hua Zhang and Lisa Crowder preparing core samples taken from the bottom of the South Pacific Gyre for analysis.PHOTO: NYTIMES
The core samples, gathered from some 6,100m below the ocean's surface, could contain possibly the oldest living organisms ever found.
The core samples, gathered from some 6,100m below the ocean's surface, could contain possibly the oldest living organisms ever found. PHOTOS: NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A membrane-trapped fluorescence microscopy image of the core samples.
A membrane-trapped fluorescence microscopy image of the core samples. PHOTOS: NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The South Pacific Gyre is the spot in the sea that is farther from land than any other, so devoid of nutrients, life and even continental dust that it is considered "the deadest spot in the ocean", said Dr Steven D'Hondt, a geomicrobiologist at the University of Rhode Island.

Yet some 6,100m beneath the surface, microscopic creatures have not only found a way to eke out a living, but they have also managed to weather the inhospitable conditions for many millions of years.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2020, with the headline 'Coming back to life - After 100 million years'. Print Edition | Subscribe