Ancient Antarctic community of bacteria discovered

A study by polar researchers has revealed an ancient community of bacteria able to thrive in the lightless, oxygen-depleted, salty environment beneath nearly 20 metres of ice in an Antarctic lake.

The research, funded by the National Science Foundation and Nasa, provides clues about biochemical processes not linked to sunlight, carbon dioxide and oxygen or photosynthesis.

The authors of the study say it may explain the potential for life in salty, cryogenic environments beyond Earth, where energy in ecosystems is typically fuelled by the sun.

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