Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The rare shall rule the oceans*

Hans and his band of ragged rare bacteria waited patiently for the currents of change. Once the conditions were right, they would ... eat and multiply!

There are abundant and rare groups of bacteria in seawater. A recent paper from our lab found that some rare groups in a community act as "seeds"; when the conditions are favorable to them, they become more abundant. Here is the link to the not-super-sciencey version **, ***

* Until conditions change again, heh.
** No, mystery is not solved. There are few absolute truths in biology, sorry.
*** There are not thousands of bacteria in a teaspoon of seawater, it's more like 3 million.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"The Ice"

Every winter, James and Joslyn had to endure six months of separation* as Joslyn, being a cryomicrobe, was entombed in sea ice**.

*Human crew of Antarctic stations are often on "the ice" for months at a time, away from loved ones and family. I bet microbes feel the same since a lot of the same species of microbes found in marine waters are also found in sea ice.

**This isn't a scientifically accurate depiction of sea ice. Now shoo, go home.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Displaced Microbes II: Aeolian Dust

Powerful sandstorms in the Sahara desert, Africa, can carry minerals, bacteria, and other "stuff" across the Atlantic. Not only do these massive storms seed the Atlantic Ocean with debris and minerals (and possibly bacteria), but dust particles from these storms have been found in America and Antarctica! Wind, the next best thing to flying bacteria.

Here is a better image of the power in these storms. Now imagine bacteria on those dust particles! Oooh...