Microbial Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 307–320 | Cite as

Is H2 the Universal Energy Source for Long-Term Survival?

  • R.Y.  Morita


This review revisits anabiosis (cryptobiosis or latent life); but more specifically with the discrepancy (time factor) between the finding of viable bacteria in ancient material and the racemization of amino acids and depurination of DNA that would have contributed to their death. The omnipresence of H2 in the biosphere since life began, its ability to penetrate the microbial cell, its low energy of activation, its ability to form protons and electrons in the presence of Fe(II), and its (including electrons and protons) role in many biochemical reactions make H2 the best candidate as the energy of survival for microbial cells. Although the concentration of H2 in most environments is below the threshold level for microbial growth, the surviving cells have a long period of time to carry out the necessary metabolism to offset the racemization and depurination processes. This paper explores a hypothesis that explains this discrepancy.


Energy Source Threshold Level Microbial Growth Microbial Cell Biochemical Reaction 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.Y.  Morita
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, College of Science and College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 9733l-3804, USAUS

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