Kharagpur: After four years of arduous work, IIT-Kharagpur's researchers have found evidence of life in India from at least 2.5 billion years, the time of the Great Oxidation Event when oxygen started to appear on Earth.

According to The Times of India, a team led by Pinaki Sar from the faculty of biotechnology, IIT-Kharagpur, began to investigate the beginning of life in India in 2014 and it has yielded stunning results.

The first signs of life have been found in the form of microbial cells in the Deccan. The microbes were found at a depth of 3km. The findings were published in the December edition of 'Scientific Reports: Nature' from the publishers of the prestigious 'Nature' journal.

TOI report said the ministry of earth sciences has been stunned by the results.

"The depths of these ancient rocks do not have oxygen, water, organics or light to support life. The rock cores we dug out from three boreholes were investigated and we have been able to prove microbial existence. It is obvious they fought extreme conditions to stay alive and multiply," Sar said.

Scientific deep drilling at Koyna, western India provides a unique opportunity to explore microbial life within deep biosphere hosted by ~65 Myr old Deccan basalt and Archaean granitic basement, the Nature journal said.

According to the report published on Nature’s website, "The subsurface rock samples from the Koyna-Warna region in western India span a substantial geological timescale, varying from ~65 Ma (Deccan flood basalt) to Archaean (basement granitoids) and including a small zone of weathered basement rocks that experienced the first rounds of lava flows during the emplacement of the Deccan traps."

"Thirteen rock core samples covering BS, TZ and GR horizons are collected from three bore holes. Core samples from different depths portray geochemical characteristics of the subsurface system. Based on the tested parameters we find distinct and characteristic geochemical nature of the granitic and basaltic horizons," it added.

The search began in 2014 when the ministry of earth sciences asked the IIT biotechnologists to join a team of geologists at Koyna in Maharashtra (in Karar village), where a devastating earthquake had happened in 1964, said TOI.

The journal said, "Subsurface core samples were collected from different depths of three exploratory drill holes (Panchgani [P], Ukhalu [U] and Phansavale [PV]) in the Koyna-Warna region of Deccan traps, Maharashtra, India during July 2014 (Panchgani and Ukhalu) and May 2015 (Phansavale).

"Thirteen rock core samples, four each from Panchgani and Phansavale, and five from Ukhalu were collected and processed for further study. Rock cores were washed thoroughly under sterile condition with autoclaved, DNA free water (Thermo-Fisher Scientific) and sub-coring of the rock was done to get rock samples devoid of any possible contamination that might have occurred during drilling."