A new research has been conducted by the Department of Biology at the University of York. It has established the presence of living bacteria in polar ice and snow.
The researchers put to use the ice core samples to look at prehistoric levels of CO2 in the environment. They wanted to compare these levels to the present day levels. They realised that the composition of gas within the ice may have been affected by the bacteria that are active in the snow during the time when it turns into ice. The researchers sterilised the snow using sterilising lamps. They then compared the sterilised snow with the natural snow and observed unexpected levels of methyl iodide. Methyl iodide is a gas which is well known to be produced by marine bacteria in the untouched snow. This new finding has thrown light on the new perspective that which planet can sustain life and also means that humans are having a greater impact on levels of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere. The results also suggest that life is possible in remote, cold, nutrient poor environments. It also offers a new perspective on whether the frozen planets of the universe could support microorganisms.
By: Anuja Arora