Microbes at the South Pole

But it wasn't just beneath the sea ice that researchers delivered revolutionary new information about how life works in extreme conditions.

We used to think that up here on the high, dry polar plateau, only humans could survive.

Image courtesy Ed Carpenter, SUNY

In the 2000-2001 research season researchers from the State University of New York discovered these microbes in the ice close to America's South Pole station.

They're very small... only about one micrometer, and there were far fewer of them than you'd find in more temperate locations. But they were definitely alive and thriving, building protein and generating energy amid temperatures as low as -17 Celsius!

How these tiny creatures can survive and repair their DNA in severe cold and under high ultraviolet radiation may give us clues that are important for future medical advances.

Image courtesy Ed Carpenter, SUNY


 • NSF-Funded Researchers Discover Evidence of Microscopic Life at the South Pole
This article explains that NSF researchers have discovered evidence that microbes may be able to survive the heavy doses of ultraviolet radiation and the extreme cold and darkness of the South Pole.
 • Snow microbes found at South Pole
This article explains that scientists have found evidence of microbes living in the ice at the South Pole.
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