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Latching onto Lichen
Topic: Extreme Life
Lichen, those colored crusts that sprout on bare rocks, dead wood, frozen soil, and other inhospitable sites, can tolerate the extreme conditions of outer space. In this interview with Astrobiology Magazine, Rosa de la Torre talks about the potential for lichen to travel between the planets and to colonize Mars.

High Lakes 2005
Topic: Extreme Life
For the fourth year in a row, a team of scientists has traveled up into the Andes mountains in Bolivia to study the life forms - mostly microbes - that inhabit some of the highest lakes in the world. These high lakes offer researchers an opportunity to study life in an extreme environment on Earth that is in some ways like conditions on Mars. Astrobiology Magazine will be posting a series of log entries from the expedition leader, Nathalie Cabrol.

Exposing E. Coli
Topic: Extreme Life
Using Petri dishes full of genetically engineered E. coli instead of photo paper, students at The University of Texas at Austin and UCSF successfully created the first-ever bacterial photographs. Their work is published in this week's issue of Nature (Nov. 24, 2005), which is devoted entirely to the emerging field of synthetic biology.

The Mothman Adventures
Topic: Extreme Life
Astrobiologists often have compelling adventures in far-flung locations. Charles Cockell, professor and chair of microbiology at the Open University in the UK, recounts an unusual expedition collecting moths in Indonesia.

Lichen Cosmonauts?
Topic: Extreme Life
One of the main focuses in the search for living organisms on other planets and the possibilities for transfer of life between planets currently centres on bacteria, due to the organism's simplicity and the possibility of it surviving an interplanetary journey exposed to the harsh space environment. This focus may develop to encompass more advanced organisms following the results of an ESA experiment on the recent Foton-M2 mission where it was discovered that lichens are very adept at surviving in open space.

The Art of War - Anemone Style
Topic: Extreme Life
Clashing colonies of sea anemones fight as organized armies with distinct castes of warriors, scouts, reproductives and other types, according to a new study.

Bigger Isn't Always Better
Topic: Extreme Life
Researchers at Oregon State University and Diversa Corporation have discovered that the smallest free-living cell known has the smallest genome, or genetic structure of any independent cell-and it dominates life in the oceans, where most cells die, and plays a huge role in the cycling of carbon on Earth.

Proof of Life?
Topic: Extreme Life
Pamela Conrad, an astrobiologist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has traveled to the ends of the Earth to study life. On June 16, 2005, Conrad gave a lecture entitled, "A Bipolar Year: What We Can Learn About Looking for Life on Other Planets by Working in Cold Deserts." In part 2 of this edited transcript, Conrad describes how her work in cold deserts could aid the search for alien life.

The Ends of the Earth
Topic: Extreme Life
On June 16, 2005, Pamela Conrad gave a lecture entitled, "A Bipolar Year: What We Can Learn About Looking for Life on Other Planets by Working in Cold Deserts." In part 1 of this edited transcript, Conrad describes what sort of signs we could look for to see if there is life in an alien environment.

Cryptobiotic Cyanobacteria
Topic: Extreme Life
An experiment in a dry Antarctic stream channel has shown that a carpet of freeze-dried microbes that lay dormant for two decades sprang to life one day after water was diverted into it, said a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher.

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