Researchers from NAI's Penn State, MBL, and UCLA Teams have completed a study of the subseafloor marine biosphere, which may be one of the largest reservoirs of microbial biomass on Earth, and which has recently been the subject of debate in terms of the composition of its microbial inhabitants. Their metagenomic analysis indicates that the subsurface environment is the most unique studied to date, distinct in its microbial make-up from the surface waters.
The slowly-metabolizing populations may be akin to what could be found on other planets in our solar system, because such environments have much less energy available than on Earth. And, because they are so deeply buried, these microbes could have survived major Earth impacts, and ensuing extinction events. Their results are published in the July 23rd Early Edition of PNAS [Source: NAI Newsletter].
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