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Discovery of tiny microbes in ancient Greenland glacier may define limits for life on Earth

subjects them to severe conditions for long periods." Some of the cells that Miteva and Brenchley were successful in cultivating required special conditions and up to six months to form initial colonies. The researchers discovered that these colonies grew more rapidly during further cultivation and that most continued to form predominantly small cells.

"Our study of the abundance, viability, and identity of the ultra-small cells existing in the Greenland ice is relevant to discovering how small life-forms can be; how cells survive being small, cold, and hungry; and what new tricks we need to develop in order to cultivate these small cells," Miteva says. "This study is part of the continuing quest by microbiologists to overcome the current limitations of our methods and to answer the big question, 'What new microbes are out there and what are they doing?'"


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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
26-May-2004


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