Astronomy Magazine

Extremophiles

Posted on the 02 June 2011 by Gabe12logan
Forty years ago researchers at the University of Wisconsin, led by Professor Thomas D. Brok, in the hot springs of national park Yellowstone discovered microorganisms that can live in temperatures above 80°C. This started a study of organisms that survive in extreme environments that were sterile before this. These organisms are called extremophiles, microbes, and generally live in conditions in which the vast majority of other organisms, died instantly.
They mostly belong to the family of Archaea, the type of single-cell organisms that lack the sail, and despite the similarities with bacteria, Archaea have a specific evolutionary heritage.
Extremophiles are divided on the basis of the main factors of the environment, although many of them fall into two or more categories (in this case called Polyextremophile). The most important factors that determine an environment are: temperature, radiation, pressure, water availability, pH, oxygen concentration, vacuum, the presence of chemical elements.
Extremophiles
In addition to proving that life can exist in the most fantastic terms, the study of extremophiles is particularly important for astrobiology - or more precisely, to find a place beyond Earth where life could exist. When you look at habitat extremophiles, most of them represent what many scientists expect to find on other worlds. Therefore, knowledge of them help in answering questions where to start with the search for life beyond Earth, how and what to look for.
Extremophiles, which are among the simplest organisms, inhaled molecules of gold dissolved in water and excretes them as solids. This property of extremophiles was discovered by professor Derek Lovley, microbiologist at University of Massachusetts, experimenting with a related species of microbes in the biological breakdown of toxic waste.
As other animal and plant species on Earth use oxygen, so extremophiles using dissolved metals, not just gold, but iron and uranium. Excreted solid metals constitute only a microscopically small lumps, but if it builds up excrements thousands and thousands of extremophiles, it is already visible piece of metal. According to Professor Lovley, the process is not profitable in the commercial sense - only one million microbes would create gram of gold! However, the effect of extremophiles is very interesting to the geologists who found that the explanation for the presence of sediments with traces of gold in areas that were once upon a time were covered by seas and oceans.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on Trial

    Julius Ethel Rosenberg Trial

    [Part 2 of 3]Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s conspiracy trial, presided over by Judge Irving Kaufman, began on March 6, 1951.  Representing the United States was... Read more

    By  Scarc
    HISTORY, SCIENCE
  • The Rosenberg Trial: Setting the Stage

    Rosenberg Trial: Setting Stage

    Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, December 1950.[Ed. Note: September 28, 2015 will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg’s birth. Read more

    By  Scarc
    HISTORY, SCIENCE
  • “A Disgraceful Act…”

    Disgraceful Act…”

    [Part 3 of 3]As Robert Oppenheimer’s loyalty hearing before the Atomic Energy Commission moved forward, the discussion surrounding Oppenheimer’s... Read more

    By  Scarc
    HISTORY, SCIENCE
  • Bioethics - Doing More Harm Than Good?

    Steven Pinker recently ignited a small firestorm with his piece in the Boston Globe arguing that bioethical issues that slow down research have a massive human... Read more

    By  Deric Bownds
    PSYCHOLOGY, SCIENCE
  • The Oppenheimer Trial

    Oppenheimer Trial

    Pauling’s copy of the Oppenheimer hearing transcript.[Part 2 of 3]J. Robert Oppenheimer achieved prominence, first in the scientific community and later with th... Read more

    By  Scarc
    HISTORY, SCIENCE
  • Pauling and Oppenheimer: A Short and Intense Friendship

    Pauling Oppenheimer: Short Intense Friendship

    Group photo of Caltech Physics faculty and graduate students, taken on the occasion of a visit to Pasadena by Albert Einstein, 1931. Robert Oppenheimer sits in... Read more

    By  Scarc
    HISTORY, SCIENCE
  • Are Pineapples A Dirty Little Secret?

    Pineapples Dirty Little Secret?

    A few days ago I posted a picture of this really cool pineapple lamp on Instagram: Isn’t it totally adorbs? Looks great in my little corner. Read more

    By  Midlifemargaritas
    LIFESTYLE

Paperblog Hot Topics

Magazines