So now I've been down in this rocky place for a few days, and guess what? I'm not alone! There are a bunch of other microbes down here, but I don't mean bugs like the ones I am used to seeing in the photic zone of the surface ocean (it's OK if one microbe calls another microbe a "bug," if it is done in a friendly way, but don't let me catch you doing it. Got that?). You see, up there I tend to hang out with a lot of phototrophs. Now don't get me wrong, I'm as heterotrophic as the next M. aquaeolei, it's just that I like a little variety once and a while, and those phototrophs fix carbon dioxide like crazy, making the most excellent sugar chains and fatty acids. Plus they have all-access passes for the cool microbe hot spots, like the PCR and the Gram-negative Room. But are there phototrophs down here in the rock? No way! What would they do without the sun? Instead, there are a bunch of bugs who live a distinctly alternative lifestyle. Fortunately, they are all quite friendly, and my best new friend is Archie, an Archaeoglobus fulgidus who prefers warm conditions and eats sulfate. I'm OK with that, except that Archie tends to outgas a little rotten-egg smelling hydrogen sulfide once and a while, and let me tell you I've never seen anyone clear a pore space faster than Archie after he's finished a big meal. So I guess I'm settling in down here, making the most of the current situation. I kind of miss the sun, but there seems to be enough oxygen that was pumped into the rock with me, and so long as I've got that and a carbon source and some iron (like they have in the rock down here, plus the occasional piece of pipe left down here by that ship I was telling you about), I think I'm going to be OK. I just wish I could find Lenny. I'm going to keep looking, and I'll tell you if I find him when I write to you next time.
That's Mario in red, exploring his new rocky subsurface home with his friend Archie. Do you recognize DEBI?