Scientists have found potential microbial life in the bottom of the Mariana Trench that is located nearly 7 miles (11 km) below the ocean surface i.e. deepest point in the ocean.
The trench is located in the Western Pacific ocean stretching from northwest of the Mariana Islands to southwest of Guam. At the depth of the trench, the pressure of the water is 1000 times higher than on the surface of the ocean.
“If we retrieve samples from the seabed to investigate them in the laboratory, many of the microorganisms that have adapted to life at these extreme conditions will die, due to the changes in temperature and pressure. Therefore, we have developed instruments that can autonomously perform preprogrammed measuring routines directly on the seabed at the extreme pressure of the Marianas Trench,” Ronnie Glud from Nordic Center for Earth Evolution at the University of Southern Denmark said in a news release.
The expedition occurred in 2010 and the scientists sent a robot to the bottom of the trench to check for the microbial life.
Scientists have found that the depths of trenches are actually the favorite places for the microbial life as there are many dead and decaying matters for the microbial life to flourish.
“We conclude that the elevated deposition of organic matter at Challenger Deep maintains intensified microbial activity at the extreme pressures that characterize this environment,” Researchers wrote.
Nearly 10 times more bacteria were found in the bottom of the trench than the waters around the trench.
“We have also made videos from the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and they confirm that there are very few large animals at these depths. Rather, we find a world dominated by microbes that are adapted to function effectively at conditions highly inhospitable to most higher organisms,” said Glud.
Glud, R., Wenzhöfer, F., Middelboe, M., Oguri, K., Turnewitsch, R., Canfield, D., & Kitazato, H. (2013). High rates of microbial carbon turnover in sediments in the deepest oceanic trench on Earth Nature Geoscience DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1773