The Atlantic

The Slow-Motion Bacteria Buried Deep in the Ocean's Floor

To survive in one of the planet’s most energy-limited environments, a hardy group of microbes appears to live at a glacial pace.
Source: Kampee Patisena / Getty

When algae die, they drift to the ocean floor, their bodies becoming one with the seabed’s muck. This algal rain falls constantly, and as layers of organic matter build up over the years, they bury the bacteria that grow on the seabed. Subsumed in the mire, many bacteria die. But some, a hardy few, survive. And when geochemists and biologists drill down into the seabed and pull up long, black cores that reflect hundreds or thousands of years of accumulation, they find the living descendants of the original bacterial

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