Isolation of a 250 million-year-old halotolerant bacterium from a primary salt crystal

Russel H. Vreeland, William D. Rosenzweig, Dennis W. Powers, Nature

This journal article reports the isolation and growth of a previously unrecognized spore-forming bacterium (Bacillus species) from a brine inclusion within a 250-million-year-old salt crystal from the Permian Salado Formation. This study claims to differ from previous reports of bacteria isolated from salt in that the discovery is supported by geological evidence of the overall age and stability of both the formation and the documented crystals, as well as the documented sterility maintained during the sampling and lab work. This research doubles the length of time bacteria can survive trapped inside stable geological materials. The article includes images of the halite crystals, discussions of sampling techniques and contamination control, and phylogenetic information derived from the data. A PDF version is available and a subscription to Nature may be required to view this article.

Subject: Biology, Molecular Biology, Evolution, Microbiology
Resource Type: Scientific Resources:Research Results
Grade Level: General Public, Graduate/Professional, College Upper (15-16), College Lower (13-14)
Extreme Environments: Hypersaline