Bacterial Underworld in Antarctic

Evan Rosser, Columnist

Antarctica’s Lake Vostok lies beneath nearly two and a half miles of ice, a frozen barrier that has kept the buried lake from the surface for millions of years.  In 2012, Russian scientists finally drilled through the frozen barrier to obtain samples of the lake’s water.  After putting the sample through a battery of tests, researchers have determined the discovery of a new form of bacteria with DNA “that did not coincide with any of the well-known types in the global database,” explained Sergei Bulat, (St Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics).  Further tests confirm that this is a new life form, one that is “unclassified and unidentified.”  More recently, US researchers completed a drill in another Antarctic lake, Lake Whillans, and returned “water and sediment that showed clear signs of life,” confirmed John C. Priscu of Montana State University.  Priscu explained that investigations of the system of lakes and rivers beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet will continue to search for further signs of “unknown ecosystems.”