It's generally agreed that life on this planet would not be possible if it weren't for microbes. In a fascinating thought experiment, a pair of biologists scrutinized this assumption to find out. As their paper makes clear, a microbe-free world would be a strange place, indeed.
Newly published research by microbiologists at the University of Potsdam in Germany has revealed that previous studies have vastly overestimated the number of microbes living at the bottom of the world's oceans.
Hydrothermal vents are epicenters to some of the most extreme geochemical processes on the planet. The hot spots of geological activity make their home on the ocean floor, where jets of scalding hot, mineral-rich water spew forth into the depths of the near-freezing ocean.