Underwater mud can conduct electricity, possibly with the help of bacteria in the sediment -- a result that helps explain the large amount of electrical activity researchers have detected in ocean sediments, a linkurl:study published;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7284/full/nature08790.html in this week's in __Nature__ reports. The finding could change how researchers think about microbes' contributions to geochemical processes.
Grey, orange and white layers of
mud from the Bay of Aarhus

Image: Nils Risgaard-Petersen
"It's an interesting and important contribution," said linkurl:Dirk de Beer;http://www.mpi-bremen.de/en/Dirk_de_Beer.html from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, who was not involved in the study. The findings show that processes crucial for life in underwater environments, such as oxidation and reduction reactions, "run faster than we think they can, and in places where we don't expect them," said de Beer. Researchers made the discovery, because, like many great scientist, they got lazy about cleaning their petri dishes, said lead author Lars...

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