10 unexpected places where bacteria live
Inside the stones. For a long time it was believed that sunlight was a prerequisite for life. Even those organisms that do not come into direct contact with sunlight (for example, those that live in your stomach) consume substances synthesized by light. But new data do not fit into this theory. Scientists researching gold mines in South Africa found bacteria at a depth of almost 2.5 km. These bacteria, apparently, exist due to radioactive waste and are in no hurry to leave their stone fortress. In addition, they are extremely slow: for example, most of the bacteria that we encounter in life divide daily, and the period of division of “underground” bacteria varies from 1 year to 300 years.
NASA's Clean Room. Perfect sterility is NASA’s primary cleanroom mission. To ensure the complete absence of microbes (necessary for testing spaceships), all kinds of disinfectants are used, and everyone who enters the room undergoes triple treatment and must wear a protective suit - in general, no less strictly than in operating rooms or in quarantine wards with creepy viruses. But here's the bad luck: one bacterium learned to survive in such conditions. The bacterium received the name Tersicoccus phoenicis, from the Latin tergere “rub, wipe, clean” and from the name of the Phoenix spaceship in which it was first discovered. Scientists met Tersicoccus phoenicis only twice - in two different clean rooms. It lives only in a sterile environment, or we simply do not notice it against the background of a general abundance of other bacteria, is still unknown.
The oldest ice. We store food in the refrigerator, because at low temperatures many life processes slow down. Therefore, scientists were surprised to find huge bacterial populations in the ice, some strains of which have existed for millions of years. The oldest ice on Earth is in Antarctica, and in it you can find microbes living there for centuries. It is assumed that the population of these bacteria exceeds the human population by more than 10 thousand times. And now, in an era of global warming, these comrades are likely to find themselves in the ocean - in a new, but clearly more hospitable environment for them.
Boiling water. You need to boil water to destroy all harmful bacteria - every child knows this. True, absolutely “all” will not work: some bacteria, for example, Clostridium botulinum, tolerate this too. Meanwhile, Clostridium botulinum is a causative agent of severe food intoxication that affects the nervous system. This bacterium loves anaerobic conditions, that is, those where there is no oxygen, therefore it survives well in boiling water, and in canned foods, and in sealed containers. To get rid of a tenacious bacteria, you need high acidity, high oxygen levels, sugar content or a temperature of more than 120 degrees.
11 km below sea level. Well, who would dream of living at the bottom of the Mariana Trench? But heterotrophic bacteria are not so skeptical and calmly live in the Challenger Abyss, the deepest point on the surface of the Earth. They support themselves through tiny pieces of organic compounds that settle there. But how organic material appears at such a depth is a mystery.
The upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. Usually we expect to meet bacteria where representatives of the animal kingdom live. Contrary to beliefs, a large population of bacteria was seen in the Earth’s atmosphere. Although our atmosphere is not inhabited by animals that can profit from bacteria, but carbon is available - it is he who “feeds” them. Bacteria that despise gravity can make up to 20% of small particles in the upper atmosphere - apparently, there is not as uncomfortable as it seems at first glance. The question remains how bacteria generally climbed so high: according to one version, strong winds and variable atmospheric pressure contributed to this.
In our eyes Yes, we know that the bacterial cells in the human body are not less than, in fact, ours, but somehow we want to think that we coexist in peaceful symbiosis, mutually supporting each other. We hasten to upset you: some of the most insidious bacteria can live in our eyeball, in particular in the conjunctiva, in the shell that covers the eye from the outside (and the back surface of the eyelids). You probably know the names of the bacteria: Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeaehas, i.e. chlamydia and gonococcus. Yes, tears protect us as they can, secreting enzymes that poison dangerous bacteria, but this does not guarantee complete disposal of them. So it’s better to keep your eyes clean.
Antarctic. Many fans of fish and seafood are afraid of poisoning with mercury, which marine inhabitants sometimes accumulate in their tissues. One of the causes of fish toxicity may be a recently discovered strain of Antarctic bacteria. The bacterium Nitrospinia converts mercury to methylmercury, which causes serious illnesses that damage the nervous system. Absorbing mercury and converting it into a toxic compound, these bacteria themselves become food for fish, and soon we get to the table with methylmercury. Be careful in choosing fish and eat products that remove mercury from the body (among them, by the way, are a lot of delicious: strawberries, raspberries, peanut butter, mango, etc.).
Glabella, or graft - part of the frontal bone between the superciliary arches and brow tubercles - is also not the most obvious habitat of bacteria. Nevertheless, it is here that the monster-like Demodex folliculorum (the so-called "eye tick") and Propionibacteria (propionic acid bacteria, the main causative agent of acne) are found. They plow the expanses of our forehead in search of carbon-containing matter and, as a rule, are harmless, but sometimes they can cause an infection that leads to acne and irritation.
Dead Sea. If you think that the name of the lake does not portend any life forms, you are mistaken: even so salty water is hospitable for many. Bacteria living in the Dead Sea must be adapted both to high salinity and to fresh water, because the level of salt in the water is constantly changing. Prokaryotic bacteria have found a loophole for themselves - freshwater sources. They live at the very bottom of the Dead Sea, near the freshwater outlet, feeding on photosynthesis and oxidation of sulfides.