Sunday, August 7, 2011
August 7, 2011 : Halomonas titanicae
Scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, collected samples of the R.M.S. Titanic's icicle-like rust formations, called rusticles, in 1991.
Although the formations were teaming with life, nobody had identified the specific microbes on the ship, instead grouping them into broad categories such as bacteria or fungi.
So Henrietta Mann and then graduate student Bhavleen Kaur, now of the Ontario Science Centre, decided to isolate and identify one species of bacteria from the mess of microscopic life-forms.
The one they chose turned out to be a new species, which the pair dubbed Halomonas titanicae. The bacteria is part of a family that had never been seen before in waters as deep as those in which the Titanic sits, about 2.4 miles (3.8 kilometers) below the surface, Kaur said.