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  1. Buried Lake Vostok May Support a Thriving Ecosystem Two Miles Beneath the Surface of Antarctica

    Scientists find signs of complex life in an Antarctic lake buried under two miles of ice. There may even be fish!

    Lake Vostok, a body of water located about two miles beneath Antarctica's icy surface, may be home to a viable ecosystem in spite of intense cold, complete darkness, lack of nutrients, and possible volcanic activity. And what's more, new evidence uncovered from samples of organic material suggest that the lake's inhabitants could include complex life forms such as arthropods, mollusks, and even fish. A group of researchers at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) concluded in a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE that "although Lake Vostok is oligotrophic," or nutrient poor, "based on the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic results presented here, it is far from sterile."

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  2. Flesh-Eating Bacteria Repurposed Into Disease-Fighting Glue

    Flesh-eating bacteria just sounds evil. It's known in the medical world as necrotizing fasciitis, which sounds even more sinister. But what if something evil could be turned into something good? For example, biochemist Mark Howarth and his team at the University of Oxford have genetically engineering a disease-fighting "superglue" out of one of the microbes that can create flesh-eating bacteria.

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  3. Symbiotic Bacteria Tell Squid When To Hunt, When To Sleep

    Glowing bacteria that live in the light-generating organs of the tiny bobtail squid play a key role in determining the animal's circadian rhythms -- the natural cycles that help determine when a creature sleeps, wakes, and eats -- according to a study published this week in the journal mBio. It's the first time a symbiotic bacteria has been found to determine the daily habits of its host, and could offer researchers insight into how the bacteria that live in more complicated creatures -- including humans -- may affect our day to day lives.

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  4. Caffeine-Junkie Bacteria Discovered, Could Help Clean Up Water Pollution, Decaffeinate Drinks

    Fun fact: As much as I love to cook, and it's a lot, I would trade all food in a second if I could live by just drinking coffee, which is what I functionally do most days anyway. Now, researchers have used a breed of bacteria that lives that dream and is able to subsist on caffeine alone and unlocked the genetic mechanism that lets the microbes pull off that impressive feat. They've even  managed to transplant it into other organisms, which could one day lead to bacteria that can clean up caffeine that pollutes water supplies and even decaffeinates coffee for us. That is a wrong thing to do to coffee, of course, but it's still might impressive.

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  5. Few Too Many Pounds? Trim Down With Bacteria From Your Buddy’s Gut

    There's always some new "breakthrough" in weight loss, touted by celebrities or TV personalities with pills, programs, or delicious new shakes. But you know what they're not touting, but actually could work? Ingesting the gut bacteria of someone slimmer than you. That's right. A new study finds that if you had the right bacteria transplant, losing weight might not be as much of a problem.

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  6. Russian Scientists Claim New Kind of Bacterial Life Found in Lake Vostok

    Russian researchers working on samples from Lake Vostok -- a subglacial lake in Antarctica sealed away for eons by more than two miles of ice -- say they have found signs of a wholly new kind of bacterial life in water samples taken from the lake. It's a pretty impressive claim, if true, and one could quiet concerns raised late last year the lake may have been entirely devoid of life -- not to mention meaning new chapters in microbiology textbooks. Now we just have to wait and see if this bold announcement holds water.

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  7. The Oldest Life on Earth Still Dominates at This German Cold Spring

    Do you want to get a glimpse of the life that dominated Earth during prehistoric times without being menaced by hyper-intelligent raptors? A German cold spring with a unique environment can offer you a look back into our planet's past, to a time when simple life forms known as archaea made the rules. Granted, it's not exactly Jurassic Park.  You'll need a high powered microscope just to see these prehistoric creatures, and they're not exactly as exciting to watch as a triceratops. Then again, they're also not going to try to murder and eat you, proving once again that life is a series of compromises leading inexorably to bitter disappointment. As if there were any doubt.

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  8. Some Bacteria From Earth Could Survive In Martian Atmosphere

    A team of researchers led by the University of Florida has found further evidence that some Earth-based life could survive in the to-say-the-least-inhospitable conditions of Mars. After testing 26 strains of bacteria under increasingly harsh conditions meant to represent those found on the Red Planet, the team was left with one -- Serratia liquefaciens -- could stand the low temperatures, pressures and oxygen-free conditions created in the lab to mimic those on the surface of Mars.

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  9. European Forest Cockchafer Keeps Gut Microbes Through Metamorphosis, Has Hilarious Name

    The European forest cockchafer -- which no, I can't type without giggling, thank you for asking -- lives on a diet of rough, woody, cellulose-heavy food. It can't digest much of the tough material on its own, but relies on a community of hard-working microbes to process its meals. A new study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, though, has revealed some surprising facts about the cockchafer's microbial community -- namely that the microbes it carries are persistent through its metamorphosis from larvae to beetle. That means that the microbes in its gut somehow survive the process of moving from grub to adult, which sees the animal's internal organs transform into entirely new structures.

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  10. Newly Discovered Seafloor Bacteria Are Living Electrical Cables

    Anyone who has made it through an 8th grade science class can tell you that electricity and water don't mix very well, which is why Spider-Man always whoops Electro's butt with a water gun. It's also why researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark were baffled three years ago when they discovered areas of the seafloor conduct an electric current. Today, the same research team announced that they've discovered the cause behind the current: A never before seen species of multicellular bacteria that lives in the mud of the seafloor and acts like living electrical cables.

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