Extreme Life

  • Prospecting for Viruses
    Under scalding, acidic conditions, how do life processes function? Because of their simplicity relative to cellular life forms, the 3500 described viruses may offer scientists the best opportunity to glean information about survival in extreme environments.
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  • Antarctic Microbes Colonize under Mars-like Conditions
    More than 20 years ago, scientists first discovered that algae, fungi and bacteria could grow inside porous sandstone and surface pavement in the Antarctic Dry Valleys.
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  • High-pressure Living
    Most researchers have concluded that only some exotic forms of life might survive at 30 miles below ground or 100 miles beneath the ocean. But a recent study published in Science magazine highlights what might be a large and subterranean biomass, even for common surface
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  • Salt of the Early Earth
    Scientists have long assumed that life originated in the sea. If life did spring from salt water, that could explain why all organisms use salt. But Paul Knauth, an astrobiologist with Arizona State University, says while we always assume that life came from the ocean,
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  • The Driest Place on Earth
    How much water does life need to survive? Chile's Atacama desert hold some interesting clues - clues that may help researchers in the hunt for life on Mars.
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  • The First Sulfur Eaters
    Sulfate-reducing bacteria have been known to exist at least 2.72 billion years ago, but new findings from Western Australian rocks push the date of their existence back an additional 750 million years. This would mean that sulfate-reducing bacteria are one of the oldest known life
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  • Tandem Evolution
    A type of clam that inhabits deep-sea hydrothermal vents is so closely knit with a bacterium living in its tissues that their evolutionary paths, as recorded in their DNA, run in lockstep.
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  • Living on Fools Gold
    Reseachers study chemolithotrophic bacteria that survive by getting its energy by oxidizing pyrite, also known as "fool's gold".
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  • Bugs From Hell
    Geochemists and microbiologists are delving into the details of extreme biochemistry deep within the Earth, where chemical and metabolic processes go at glacial pace, and life appears to be completely disconnected from the photosynthesis-based biological cycles that dominate surface life.
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  • Living in the Dark
    Over the past several years, scientists have discovered life in the most unusual places. From rocky abodes deep underground, to hot volcanic vents under the seas.
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  • From Lightbulbs to Life
    A one-celled organism that lives in deep-sea volcanic vents has developed an alternative metabolism that uses tungsten - an element popularly used to make lightbulb filaments.
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  • Why Microbes Matter
    Research on Mars can lead to advances in biotechnology and medicine, bring us closer to understanding our origins.
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  • Eating Kerogen
    A team of researchers discovered that microorganisms in Kentucky's New Albany Shale are eating kerogen.
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  • Cafe Methane
    In recent years, researchers discovered life also thrives in other, much colder, lightless deep-sea ecosystems besides hydrothermal vents.
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  • Life without Volcanic Heat
    An 18-story undersea vent off the Atlantic, near what has been called the 'Lost City', has recently revealed itself as ripe with exotic microbial life.
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