Microbes, those tiny organisms, may prove their worth in oil fields.

Companies are sending rock and fluid samples to Biota Technology, a startup that believes its analysis of these primordial bacteria will lead to more precise drilling that will lower costs.

By checking the DNA of bacteria within underground formations, Biota can determine their boundaries. The Houston Chronicle’s Katherine Blunt explained, “In the Permian, for example, bacteria in two overlapping layers—the Bone Spring and the Wolfcamp—are biologically distinct, providing markers that could determine whether a well is drawing from one source or the other during the course of operations.

“That’s critical information for drillers trying to make the best use of each well.”

It’s beneficial for drillers to know exactly from where they are drawing. “Both wells could be sucking oil from, say, the Bone Spring, depleting that source more quickly while missing out on the crude from the Wolfcamp,” Blunt wrote.