For Zombie Microbes, Deep-Sea Buffet is Just Out of Reach

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Far below the ocean floor, sediments are teeming with bizarre zombie-like microbes. Although they’re technically alive, they grow in slow motion, and can take decades for a single cell to divide—something their cousins at the surface do in a matter of minutes. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is beginning to pick apart how they survive by examining their source of “food”—nearby molecules of organic carbon. The study helps further our understanding of the limitations of life on Earth and could help inform how life might exist on other planets.