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Science. 1999 Dec 10;286(5447):2144-7.

Microorganisms in the accreted ice of Lake Vostok, Antarctica.

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School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.


Analysis of a portion of Vostok ice core number 5G, which is thought to contain frozen water derived from Lake Vostok, Antarctica (a body of liquid water located beneath about 4 kilometers of glacial ice), revealed between 2 x 10(2) and 3 x 10(2) bacterial cells per milliliter and low concentrations of potential growth nutrients. Lipopolysaccharide (a Gram-negative bacterial cell biomarker) was also detected at concentrations consistent with the cell enumeration data, which suggests a predominance of Gram-negative bacteria. At least a portion of the microbial assemblage was viable, as determined by the respiration of carbon-14-labeled acetate and glucose substrates during incubations at 3 degrees C and 1 atmosphere. These accreted ice data suggest that Lake Vostok may contain viable microorganisms.

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