British media: "Oil" bacteria found in the deepest part of the world's oceans
At the bottom of the Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the ocean on Earth, where scientists have discovered unique "eat oil" bacteria.
Similar bacteria have been discovered before, and have even been used to help deal with leaking oil, such as the oil slick left by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. But this new study shows that the Mariana Trench is the most concentrated place in the world.
The 2,550-kilometer Mariana Trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean, with a maximum depth of about 11,000 meters. In contrast, the height of Mount Everest is 8,848 meters. Therefore, sailing to the bottom of the Mariana Trench is very dangerous and expensive, and only a few scientific expeditions have investigated the organisms inhabiting this ecosystem.
Dr. Jonathan Todd of the University of East Anglia's College of Biological Sciences in the United Kingdom said: "Our research team dive to the depth of the 11,000-meter-long Mariana Trench and collect samples of the microbial population there. We carry the samples back. The study found a new hydrocarbon-degrading bacterium."
He explained that the bacteria "basically eats compounds similar to petroleum and then uses it as a nutrient. Similar microbes play a role in degrading oil that leaks from natural disasters, such as the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil. The company's oil spill accident (ie 'Deepwater Horizon' accident).
He said: "We also found that there is a very large number of such bacteria at the bottom of the Mariana Trench."
To clarify the source of the hydrocarbons that feed the bacteria, the team analyzed samples taken from seawater in the sea to sediments at the bottom of the trench.
Dr. Nikola Pedenchuk of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia said: "We found that hydrocarbons exist in the 6,000 meters or even deeper places below the surface of the sea. A large part of them may come from pollution on the surface of the ocean."
He said: "What surprised us was that we also found bio-generated hydrocarbons in marine sediments at the bottom of the trench, indicating that there is a unique microbiota in this environment that is producing hydrocarbons."