Bacteria found in 120,000-year-old ice

June 5, 2008 at 12:35 PM

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., June 5 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists report discovering a tiny species of bacteria that has survived for more than 120,000 years within a Greenland glacier.

Pennsylvania State University researchers say the bacteria, found at a depth of nearly two miles, are among a type of ultra-small bacteria that can pass through microbiological filters, including those used to prepare ultra-purified water for dialysis.

The scientists said the discovery and subsequent studies of the microorganism's ability to persist in such a low-temperature, high-pressure, reduced-oxygen and nutrient-poor habitat might help reveal how life, in general, can exist in a variety of extreme environments on Earth and elsewhere.

Called Chryseobacterium greenlandensis, the species is related genetically to certain bacteria found in fish, marine mud and the roots of some plants, the scientists said, noting the organism is one of only about 10 scientifically described new species originating from polar ice and glaciers.

The discovery was presented this week in Boston during a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

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