Fri Oct 26, 2012, 09:40 PM
n2doc (37,130 posts)
The seafloor is home to a vast electrical network created by bacteria
It sounds a little bit like one of the subplots in Avatar, where we discover that the moon Pandora possesses a kind of mega-consciousness created by bio-electrical circuitry. But this is actually real. Two years ago, researchers discovered a strange electro-chemical signature in the sludge at the bottom of Aarhus Bay in Denmark. Now, they've discovered what was causing it: a vast network of bacteria that form electrical connections with each other, almost like nerve cells in the brain.
Above, you can see what you might call tiny electrical wires that connect each bacterial cell, under an electron microscope. The wires are blue, and they are running through a piece of sediment, or sand from the seafloor.
Over at Wired Science, Brandon Keim explains:
The bacteria were first detected in 2010 by researchers perplexed at chemical fluctuations in sediments from the bottom of Aarhus Bay . . . Almost instantaneously linking changing oxygen levels in water with reactions in mud nearly an inch below, the fluctuations occurred too fast to be explained by chemistry.
Only an electrical signal made sense — but no known bacteria could transmit electricity across such comparatively vast distances. Were bacteria the size of humans, the signals would be making a journey 12 miles long.
Now the mysterious bacteria have been identified. They belong to a microbial family called Desulfobulbaceae, though they share just 92 percent of their genes with any previously known member of that family. They deserve to be considered a new genus, the study of which could open a new scientific frontier for understanding the interface of biology, geology and chemistry across the undersea world.
6 replies, 1949 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
The seafloor is home to a vast electrical network created by bacteria (Original post)
|Tigress DEM||Oct 2012||#3|
Response to n2doc (Original post)
Sat Oct 27, 2012, 12:47 AM
bananas (24,889 posts)
5. That page at io9 has disappeared, but it's still in google's cache
Grab it before it's gone: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http%3A%2F%2Fio9.com%2F5955390%2Fthe-seafloor-is-home-to-a-vast-electrical-network-created-by-bacteria
The wired article it links to is still there: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/bacteria-electric-wires
edit to add: she also linked to a Nature article: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/bacteria-electric-wires