Carbon Life: Bacteria to President Barack Obama

EarthsCarbonConcentrations_black_low

Life survives miles below the Earth’s surface

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 5 2013 (IPS)

Every living thing from bacteria to President Barack Obama is made of carbon from exploding stars.

Billions of years ago, motes of carbon and other stardust formed the Earth. Carbon is the basis of all life but most vanished deep inside the planet, researchers now believe. And surprisingly, life thrives inside the rocky layers kilometres below our feet.

“Microbes survive by eating rock at those depths,” said Robert Hazen, executive director of the , a decade-long, global collaboration investigating the inner workings of the planet.

“Life is very different under those tremendous pressures and temperatures,” Hazen told IPS.

The variety of bacterial life at extreme high-pressure depths worldwide constitutes a subterranean “Galapagos”, he said. There may be as much as half of all life in the ground deep below us, according to one estimate, although Hazen thinks that might be too high.

“Drill a hole one or two kilometres deep just about anywhere and you will find a sparse but hardy microbial community,” said Isabelle Daniel of l’Université Claude Bernard in Lyon, France.

“These deep microbes, which live in the tiniest cracks and fissures in rocks, survive on the chemical energy of minerals,” said Daniel, who is one hundreds of scientists involved in the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).

DNA analysis reveals a diversity of microorganisms, mainly single-celled. However, deep below the ocean floor live fungi-like organisms with complex cell structures. Researchers estimate that these are extraordinarily long-living organisms, conceivably living for millions of years.

“There are also a huge numbers of viruses, their DNA carefully inserted into living cells,” said Hazen.

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Organic farms have better fungi and that’s a very good thing

Organic cultivation of mixed vegetables in Cap...
Image via Wikipedia

New study from Britain’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology concludes: Organic agriculture better for fungi that are a key to healthy ecosystems. [press release below]

This is just one of dozens of different studies that demonstrate the benefits of organic over conventional as I’ve previously posted. Despite the benefits to society organic farmers receive little government support or are marginalized in most countries. Wonder why? — Stephen

Organic farming more profitable and better than conventional systems – U of Wisconsin

Organic Agriculture Reduces Climate Change, Poverty and Hunger

Organic Provides 3X More Food Per Acre in Poor Countries – podcast

Overweight? Hungry? Blame “Hollow Food”


Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Farming practices have a significant impact on the diversity of beneficial microbial fungi known to play important roles in crop productivity, soil recovery and maintenance of healthy ecosystems, according to new research published today (14 September 2010) in the journal Environmental Microbiology. The conclusions could have important implications for the way humans manage the agricultural landscape and tackle food security issues. Continue reading