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Deep bacterial biosphere in Pacific Ocean sediments

Parkes, Ronald John, Cragg, Barry Andrew, Bale, S. J., Getlifff, J. M., Goodman, K., Rochelle, Paul Anthony, Fry, John Christopher, Weightman, Andrew John ORCID: and Harvey, S. M. 1994. Deep bacterial biosphere in Pacific Ocean sediments. Nature 371 (6496) , pp. 410-413. 10.1038/371410a0

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ALTHOUGH around 70% of the Earth's surface is marine, little is known about the microbiology of underlying sediments, which can be more than a kilometre deep1. Selective degradation of organic matter within sediments over geological time profoundly affects the chemical composition of the ocean and atmosphere2. Microbial processes have a fundamental role in surface sediments3,4, but despite geochemical evidence5, their significance in deeper sediments has not been established6. Here we report the discovery of viable sediment bacterial populations at five Pacific Ocean sites to depths >500m. Bacterial distributions and activities are commensurate with geochemical changes. Bacterial profiles with depth are remarkably consistent, and deviations can be linked to specific environmental factors. The rate of decline in these populations indicates that bacteria are present to even greater depths.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: Letters to Nature
Publisher: Nature Publishing
ISSN: 0028-0836
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 12:19

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