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The question of uniqueness of ancient bacteria

Microorganisms are associated with a variety of ancient geological materials. However, conclusive proof that these organisms are as old as the geological material and not more recent introductions has generally been lacking. Over the years, numerous reports of the isolation of ancient bacteria from geological materials have appeared. Most of these have suffered from the fact that the protocol for the surface sterilization of the sample was either poorly defined, inadequate or rarely included data to validate the overall effectiveness of the sterilization protocol. With proper sterility validation and isolation protocol, a legitimate claim for the isolation of an ancient microbe can be made. Biochemical, physiological, or morphological data indicate that these ancient microbes are not significantly different from modern isolates. As the role (decomposition) of modern and ancient microbes has not changed over time, it is probably unreasonable to expect these organisms to be vastly different. A discussion on the reasons for the homogeneity of ancient and modern microbes is presented. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology (2002) 28, 32–41 DOI: 10.1038/sj/jim/7000174

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Received 20 May 2001/ Accepted in revised form 16 June 2001

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Vreeland, R., Rosenzweig, W. The question of uniqueness of ancient bacteria. J Ind Microbiol Biotech 28, 32–41 (2002).

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  • Keywords: ancient bacteria; salt crystals; bacillus; halophiles; archaea