If you have ever read Micheal Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain“, you’ll know what “Wildfire” is !!
Subterranean bacteria built to last
No place on Earth demonstrates the resilience or inventiveness of life quite like Lechuguilla Cave, whose subterranean tunnels stretch for 130 miles through Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.
Deep in the cave’s most arid recesses, deprived of all sunlight and mostly starved of life-giving water, a lush garden of bacteria grows. Untouched by humans for all of their 4 million years, these strains of bacteria thrive on the harsh minerals of the geological formations to which they cling and fend off other life forms that would prey on them
Scientists who collected 93 strains of bacteria from the forbidding depths of Lechuguilla found that all were resistant to at least one of the antibiotics that modern medicine uses to fight bacterial infections and some were resistant to at least 14. In addition, virtually all of the 26 antibiotics tested as part of the study proved useless in killing at least one of the strains of bacteria collected.
Scientists have long believed that the ability of disease-causing bacteria to outwit antibiotic medicines was a man-made phenomenon, said Eileen Choffnes, director of the Institute of Medicine’s forum on microbial threats. The growing use of antibiotics derived from plants and synthesized in laboratories was thought to have spurred adaptations that made many of these bacterial pathogens less vulnerable to drugs used to fight tuberculosis, malaria, gonorrhea, influenza, pneumonia and AIDS.
But the new research demonstrates that antibiotic resistance emerged millions of years before those medicines were used – and in an environment far too forbidding for the bacteria to have come into any contact with the drugs, Choffnes said.
Along with that is the fact that the Russian’s have been finally able to drill into Lake Vostok in Antarctica:
At 8:25 p.m. Moscow time on Sunday, drillers hit lake water at a depth of 12,355 feet (3,766 meters)—making them the first ever to probe a subglacial lake, according to a statement provided by Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
Lake Entry May Reveal Microbial Life?
Lake Vostok is the largest of more than 145 subglacial lakes—most of them several kilometers long—that have been discovered under Antarctica in past decades.
The project to probe the Great Lake-size water body, which has been entombed in ice for 25 million years, has been the centerpiece of the Russian Antarctic program. (See 3-D pictures of Antarctica’s subglacial “ghost mountains.”)
Subglacial lakes may open a new window onto our planet, for example, by offering new insights into climate history or revealing previously unknown life-forms.
Priscu, for instance, has found evidence that microbes could live in the subglacial lake, deriving energy from minerals by “eating rocks,” he told National Geographic News in 2007.
“I hope that they can confirm unequivocally that there is indeed microbial life in the lake,” Priscu said today.
“This has been the center of much debate in the past that can only be resolved with actual sample return. If they can confirm there is life in the lake, it will transform our view of Antarctica.”
Bacteria from underground caves and other microbes deep below Antarctica…………………………
I need to stock on Purell !!