Oxygen-breathing microbes found where no life was thought to exist

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An international team that includes a Texas A&M University research scientist have found oxygen-breathing microbial life where scientists believed no life could exist – more than 200 feet below the ocean floor

In its current issue, Nature Geosciences published the findings from the research team, which include Carlos Alvarez-Zarikian, a staff scientist with the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) at Texas A&M.

The researchers discovered oxygen as well as oxygen-breathing microbes throughout the sediment at seven positions in the South Pacific gyre, which is generally considered the “deadest” location in the ocean. These findings contrast with previous research that showed oxygen to be present in only the top layers of the ocean sediment.

The team includes 35 scientists from 12 countries. Also contributing to the research from Texas A&M are Helen Evans of the IODP, and graduate student Claire McKinley from the Department of Oceanography.

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