Too Toxic for Microorganisms – Not

Posted on July 11, 2008  Comments (1)

The Pit of Life and Death by Richard Solensky:

The water became as acidic as lemon juice, creating a toxic brew of heavy metal poisons including arsenic, lead, and zinc. No fish live there, and no plants line the shores. There aren’t even any insects buzzing about. The Berkeley Pit had become one of the deadliest places on earth, too toxic even for microorganisms. Or so it was thought.

the researchers identified it as Euglena mutabilis, a protozoan which has the remarkable ability of being able to survive in the toxic waters of the Berkeley Pit by altering its local environment to something more hospitable. Through photosynthesis, it increases the oxygen level in the water, which causes dissolved metals to oxidize and precipitate out. In addition, it pulls iron out of the water and sequesters it inside of itself. This makes it a classic example of an extremophile.

Related: Bacteria Frozen for 8 Million Years In Polar Ice ResuscitatedBacterium Living with High Level Radiationposts on Microbes

One Response to “Too Toxic for Microorganisms – Not”

  1. CuriousCat: Life After the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident
    September 14th, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

    Taken together, the researchers think their results do indeed hint that fungi can live off ionising radiation, harnessing its energy through melanin to somehow generate a new form of biologically usable growing power…

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