In the 19 October Nature Vreeland et al. report that the longevity record for bacteria has been smashed (Nature 2000, 407:897-900). The previous record holder was a Bacillus identified from the abdominal contents of a bee preserved in amber some 25 to 40 million years ago. The newly identified bacterium is also a Bacillus, but comes from a brine inclusion within a 250 million-year-old salt crystal. The crystal was found 569m below the surface, in the wall of an air-intake shaft of a waste isolation pilot plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Surface sterilization of the crystal with acid and alkali reduced the probability of contamination to less than 1 in 109.

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