A bacterium whose list of attributes matches its impressively long name. Indeed, they are recorded in the name - methano means that it can generate methane, thermo refers to its optimum growth temperature of 65°C and autotrophicum means that it does not rely on other organisms for its energy source.

Although it sounds exotic, this microorganism can live in waste treatment plants - from which it was originally isolated in 1971. Since it converts carbon dioxide and hydrogen to methane, it has been targetted as a potential source for fuel. In adition it only really needs nitrogen gas, as well as calcium, iron, sulphur and molybdenum. This makes it amongst the most self-sufficient organisms known.

This very ability to survive on its own, without oxygen suggests that it is able to survive deep underground. Like the putative SLiMEs that lurk down there, such a self-reliant microbe would be right at home amongst the gaseous rocks at 70 degrees in total darkness.

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