Researchers have discovered life under glaciers: it exists thanks to hydrogen

In their work, scientists investigated the ways in which water and microbes interact with glaciers: they did this using

sediment samples taken from glaciers in Canada and Iceland.

We continued to find organisms even at high subzero temperatures: their life was supported by hydrogen.

Research text

The research team found that thanks toThe physical and chemical reactions under the glaciers generate hydrogen gas as the silica-rich bedrock beneath the glaciers breaks into tiny mineral particles under the weight of the ice. When these mineral particles combine with ice-cold melt water, they release hydrogen.

Interestingly, microbial communities underglaciers could combine this hydrogen gas with carbon dioxide to form biomass, through a process called chemosynthesis. Chemosynthesis is similar to the process of producing biomass from carbon dioxide using photosynthesis, although it does not require sunlight for chemosynthesis.

To find out more about what these are doingchemosynthetic microbes, scientists used samples of glacial deposits in Canada and Iceland. They grew samples of living organisms found in the sediment in the laboratory and observed them for several months to see if they would continue to grow in the simulated environment.

Several months of preparation and observation ofWith microbial cultures, scientists have found that not only can the growth of communities be tracked in the laboratory, but that the type of bedrock underlying the glacier affects the amount of hydrogen gas produced. Thanks to it, microbial communities appear that are better adapted to the metabolism of hydrogen.

Bacteria use this hydrogen gas for energy, and they also pull carbon dioxide out of the air to create biomass, multiply and grow.

Scientists believe their research will help study glaciers on other planets, as well as potentially help learn about life on them.

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