Recently in the Extremeophiles and Extreme Environments Category


In recent years, the idea of life on other planets has become less far-fetched. NASA announced June 27 that it will send a vehicle to Saturn's icy moon, Titan, a celestial body known to harbor surface lakes of methane and an ice-covered ocean of water, boosting its chance for supporting life.

High in the Andes Mountains, dagger-shaped ice spires house thriving microbial communities, offering an oasis for life in one of Earth's harshest environments as well as a possible analogue for life on other planets.

Salt-tolerant bacteria grown in brine were able to revive after the brine was put through a cycle of drying and rewetting.

Researchers at Stanford University have found an aquatic highway that releases nutrients from within the Earth and ferries them up to surface waters off the coast of Antarctica. There the nutrients stimulate explosive growth of microscopic ocean algae.

Germs and Geothermals

The collaboration is looking at a group of organisms called 'extremophiles'--organisms that live in extremely hot or extremely cold environments unsuited to human habitation.

The first study of ultra-small bacteria living in the extreme environment of Ethiopia's Dallol hot springs shows that life can thrive in conditions similar to those thought to have been found on the young planet Mars.

Scientists from the University of East Anglia have discovered a unique oil eating bacteria in the deepest part of the Earth's oceans - the Mariana Trench.

Microbes That Grow On Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide is a fascinating and versatile molecule, important for all living things as well as our environment: It is highly reactive and toxic, it is used as a signaling molecule, it depletes the ozone layer in our planet's atmosphere and it is the precursor of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O).

Last August, Abdelrhman Mohamed found himself hiking deep into the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Unlike thousands of tourists who trek to admire the park's iconic geysers and hot springs every year, the WSU graduate student was traveling with a team of scientists to hunt for life within them.

Far below the ocean floor, sediments are teeming with bizarre zombie-like microbes. Although they're technically alive, they grow in slow motion, and can take decades for a single cell to divide--something their cousins at the surface do in a matter of minutes.