Published on January 25, 2008
Extremophiles: Extremophiles By Cristal Locke Frances S. Tucker Elementary Info-ology Federation Gifted Center Extreme?: Extreme? Harsh conditions according to humans Extremophiles?: Extremophiles? Extremophiles are microbes that live in conditions that would kill other creatures. They were first recognized in the 1970's Most archaea, some bacteria and a few protists can survive in the harshest and strangest of environments. Archea: Archea Bacteria: Bacteria E. Coli Beggiatoa Ice Lovers: Ice Lovers Scientists have discovered a microbial world hidden deep beneath the frozen Antarctic ice that could help them learn more about how life can survive under extreme conditions on other planets or moons. Lake Vostok is a huge freshwater lake which has been frozen for perhaps a million years. Ice Samples: Ice Samples Ice samples have been retrieved from depths of nearly 4000m (1200 feet), and a diverse assortment of bacterial species has been recovered. Ice Samples: Ice Samples At these depths the microbes have been cut off from sunlight and other energy sources for a considerable time and are in a dormant state, but still metabolizing at a very low-level of activity. Diatom Fragments A microbe from beneath the Antarctic ice © NASA, 1998 Life on Europa?: Life on Europa? These findings are a good sign for the possibility of life being able to survive on Europa, the ice-bound moon of Jupiter. Europa from Galileo Telescope Acid, alkali and salt : Acid, alkali and salt Acid environments usually occur around active hydrothermal vents. It is very hot inside the vent but the temperature falls a great deal just outside the vent. Too much acid!: Too much acid! Many of these hot springs are contaminated with sulfur making the water very acidic. Acidity, unlike heat, does not fall off outside vent. Other places where acidophiles occur include polluted places, where industry or mining has left acidic waste. Life in the Vents: Life in the Vents Giant tube worms can be seen peeking out of the vents. Where are the vents?: Where are the vents? What’s a vent made of?: What’s a vent made of? Thermophiles: Thermophiles Bacteria and Archaea live in hot springs heated by geothermal reactions deep in the Earth. Some springs reach temperatures of 80 C (177F). The orange scum is bacterial in origin. Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve in Rotorua New Zealand. © Cassandra Hoyland, 1999. New Zealand: New Zealand Thermal Pool: Thermal Pool The rusty color of the rocks of this volcanic pool is Sulfolobus solfataricus. It lives near mount Vesuvius in Italy. Italy: Italy Rock Dwellers: Rock Dwellers Archaea have been found more than four miles down, in the ancient lava flows of the Columbia River area of Washington State, by a NASA microbiologist. They live inside the rock itself and respire anaerobically, breathing without oxygen. How does the bacteria survive?: How does the bacteria survive? The pressures at these depths are over 70 tons (140,000 pounds) per square inch. (It takes 8 pounds of pressure to break a bone.) The bacteria feed off hydrogen gas which is given off when water seeping through the rock reacts with it. Life on Mars?: Life on Mars? The bacteria look very similar to the Mars meteorite fossils. Dry and hot, dry and cold : Dry and hot, dry and cold The Mojave desert is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Algae grow under white desert rocks, where there is some moisture. The rocks have to be white so that enough sunlight gets through to allow the algae to photosynthesize. Mojave Lake-beds: Mojave Lake-beds The Mojave lake-beds are a good place to look for Mars-like microbes. There are lake-beds on Mars which may have life preserved in the 3.5 to 4 billion year old sediments left over from when the planet had water. Unlike the Mojave, Mars will be extremely cold.. Time Travelers : Time Travelers Amber is fossilized tree resin and it can preserve creatures trapped in it for millions of years. It was alive!!!!: It was alive!!!! Bacteria were found in the gut of a bee that was trapped in amber and was revived after a 25 million-year hibernation. When subjected to adverse conditions, they stop moving and reproducing. They do without air and water. The Most Remarkable Microbe : The Most Remarkable Microbe Another bacterium that has even more remarkable properties is Deinococcus radiodurans. It can withstand high levels of radiation that would kill other living entities, including most bacteria. It can be classed as a polyextremophile Is there life out there?: Is there life out there? What do you think? Activity: Activity Partner up with another student. Think of an extreme place. Draw a picture of the place and an animal that would live there on the poster provided. Write a poem or brief riddle about the place, however do not give away the name of the place. When everyone is done, we will share our posters and see if other groups can guess the places drawn.