What's This Mysterious 'Alien Soil' That's Growing Deep Underground?

A new type of discovery has recently been put to spotlight after mysterious patterns have allegedly appeared on the cave walls of the vast Frasassi cave system in central Italy. Dubbed as biovermiculations, these mysterious formations are noted for having worm like shapes that cannot only be found in in caves, but anywhere that's dark, moist, and underground such as mines, sewers, and up until in the basement. Researchers have described that they are basically visually distinctive for the repetitive patterns they form like the centimeter-wide lines that branch into labyrinthine configurations which can sometimes be noted for having the resemblance when it comes to the folds of a human brain.

Debunking Biovermiculations

Study findings have shown that biovermiculations are allegedly rich in organic matter that contains diverse species of bacteria, fungi, invertebrates, and protists. In one of her statements reported by Science Friday, Jennifer Macalady, an associate professor of geosciences at Penn State University said that they're basically a small ecosystem all to themselves that even when scraped away, biovermiculations will eventually regrow. In an experiment consistently monitored by Macalady and her colleagues, it was found that the team have been wiping away parts of the winding lines at different distances from a region in the cave where smelly, sulfidic groundwater mixes with oxygenated water percolating from the surface.

Meanwhile, according to PRI, the associate professor was also quoted to have have said that with regards to their study findings, what the team finds is that the closer they are to the water table, the faster these organisms grow back. She adds that the microbes seemingly eats the hydrogen sulfide in the groundwater and "breathing" the oxygen from the percolating water. Consequently, Macalady explains that they're like a sort of little bags of catalysts that harvest that chemical energy.

Biovermiculations And Their Significance

Furthermore, the experts have claimed that the research about biovermiculations is important since we are in the age of exploration where we find new biological types that do new things. Hence, just by looking at a new place, especially a place that's somewhat strange, dark, underground is a really exciting platform from a microbial diversity point of view. Ultimately, the researchers believe that biovermiculations at Frasassi could serve as a potential strong testament to the possibilities of complex life underground.


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