Next time you’re waiting for astronomers to find signs of life on other planets, you should seriously consider the possibility for our beloved Earth to amaze us in new ways. In new research published in Frontiers of Microbiology, scientists revealed the identification of new microbes in dark geothermal caves, volcanic vents, and lava tubes in Hawai’i, according to ScienceAlert.
Researchers found samples of microbial mats between 2006 and 2009, but also much later, between 2017 and 2019. The sequencing of some samples resulted in no match to known species found.
Rebecca Prescott, a microbiologist from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, stated:
Overall, this study helps to illustrate how important it is to study microbes in co-culture, rather than growing them alone (as isolates),
In the natural world, microbes do not grow in isolation. Instead, they grow, live, and interact with many other microorganisms in a sea of chemical signals from those other microbes. This then can alter their gene expression, affecting what their jobs are in the community.
The new findings from Hawai’i shouldn’t surprise us at all, however, considering that scientists acknowledge that over 99% of all microbe species are still unknown to humanity.
But there are even other questions regarding microbes that remain unanswered after the new findings. For instance, Prescott also wonders if extreme environments can also help in the creation of more interactive microbial communities where those little forms of life can depend on one another.
Did you know that there are more bacteria in the mouth of the person compared to the entire world’s population? The human body has about 39 trillion microbes. Most microbes, in fact, help us digest the food we eat, maintain our reproductive health, and even grant some level of protection against infections. In other words, most microbes are not harmful to us.