The challenge of proving the existence of metazoan life in permanently anoxic deep-sea sediments

Roberto Danovaro, Cristina Gambi, Antonio Dell'Anno, Cinzia Corinaldesi, Antonio Pusceddu, Ricardo Cardoso Neves, Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen
2016 BMC Biology  
The demonstration of the existence of metazoan life in absence of free oxygen is one of the most fascinating and difficult challenges in biology. Danovaro et al. (2010) discovered three new species of the Phylum Loricifera, living in the anoxic sediments of the L'Atalante, a deep-hypersaline anoxic basin of the Mediterranean Sea. Multiple and independent analyses based on staining, incorporation of radiolabeled substrates, CellTracker Green incorporation experiments and ultra-structure
more » ... allowed Danovaro et al. (2010) to conclude that these animals were able to spend their entire life cycle under anoxic conditions. Bernhard et al. (2015) investigated the same basin. Due to technical difficulties in sampling operations, they could not collect samples from the permanently anoxic sediment, and sampled only the redoxcline portion of the L'Atalante basin. They found ten individuals of Loricifera and provided alternative interpretations of the results of Danovaro et al. (2010) . Here we analyze these interpretations, and present additional evidence indicating that the Loricifera encountered in the anoxic basin L'Atalante were actually alive at the time of sampling. We also discuss the reliability of different methodologies and approaches in providing evidence of metazoans living in anoxic conditions, paving the way for future investigations.
doi:10.1186/s12915-016-0263-4 pmid:27267928 pmcid:PMC4895820 fatcat:bxitvgqv3zecdjzcth6onw3kya