The struggle for life in the Dead Sea sediments: necrophagy as a survival mechanism

Camille Thomas, Vincent Grossi, Ingrid Antheaume, Daniel Ariztegui; Recycling of archaeal biomass as a new strategy for extreme life in Dead Sea deep sediments. Geology doi:

Camille Thomas, Daniel Ariztegui and a team of colleagues from the University of Lyon (France) have evidenced unprecedented molecular fossils from the hypersaline sediments of the Dead Sea. Their structure reveals the recycling of cell fragments from halophilic archaea, extremophiles adapted to the hypersaline Dead Sea conditions, by another microbial population, likely from the Bacteria domain. This necrophagic strategy allows them to create carbon and water stocks to survive in the deep salt and gypsum sediments of the Dead Sea. This constitutes an unprecedented strategy for survival in the deep biosphere, widening our understanding of adaptations exhibited by microorganisms to live in extreme environments.

(photo credit Tommy Dessine)

March 27, 2019