Extremophile Aquatic Organisms

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Extremophiles

Bizarre Yellowstone Virus May Be Key To Our Past

Heat-Loving Virus Clue To First Life On Earth?

POSTED: 1:23 pm MDT May 12, 2004

BILLINGS, Mont. -- Scientists at Montana State University in Bozeman say they have discovered a heat-loving, acid-dwelling virus that could help provide a link to ancient life on Earth.

The virus found in Yellowstone National Park could help to understand a common ancestor that scientists believe was present before life split into forms such as bacteria, heat-loving organisms and the building blocks that led to plants and animals, researchers said.

"It's a clue that helps you say, `Yeah, there probably was a common ancestor at some point or sets of ancestors,"' said George Rice, one of the MSU scientists who participated in the study. "It's food for thought."

The scientists' discovery was published in the May 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rice began hunting for heat-loving "thermophilic" viruses in Yellowstone five years ago. In 2001, he and others found several apparently unique viruses associated with an organism living near Midway Geyser Basin where temperatures ranged from 158 to 197 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It was basically something living in boiling acid," Rice said.

Although several new viruses were discovered, one in particular caught their eye.

After characterizing the structure and genome of the virus, they found that its protein shell was similar to a bacterial virus and an animal virus. The similarity suggests to the scientists that the three viruses may share a common ancestor that predates the branching off of life forms more than 3 billion years ago.

"This is something that was predicted but hadn't been shown before," Rice said.

For a long time, scientists classified all life forms as plant or animal. That classification system expanded as more life forms were discovered. Eventually, biologists divided life into five kingdoms _ plants, animals, bacteria, fungi and protists.

A more recent approach divides life into three domains: bacteria, eukarya _ which includes plants, fungi, animals and others _ and archaea, which means ancient.

Archaea, similar to bacteria, is likely the least understood of the domains, according to the paper's authors. Archaea may have been among the first forms of life on Earth. Able to thrive in the hot, gaseous and volcanic terrain of early Earth, they could also survive in the very inhospitable geothermal features of the Yellowstone of today.

Now that scientists know the Yellowstone virus's ancient structure seems to span all three domains of life, scientists plan additional studies on its genes to figure out what they tell the virus to do.

"Anywhere there's life, we expect viruses," Young said. "They are the major source of biological material on this planet."

Researchers said the virus and others found at Yellowstone will give researchers a hand in the search for life on other planets, including Mars.

"These bugs are living and doing business in a harsh environment," Rice said. "This may be clues about what to look for."
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/3297237/detail.html
 

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"Miracle" Microbes Thrive at Earth's Extremes

John Roach
for National Geographic News
September 17, 2004

For the past 30 years scientists have scoured the most inhospitable environments on Earth searching for life. Just about everywhere researchers look, they find it thriving in microscopic form.

These organisms, known as extremophiles, snuggle up to scalding hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean. They cling to ice in Antarctica. They burrow in the high deserts of Chile and wallow in salty lake beds of East Africa.

Scientists continue to search for—and find—extremophiles everywhere from volcanic cauldrons in Russia to alkaline waters in China's Inner Mongolia. In the process, researchers are also beginning to tease out the organisms' secrets to life.

Thermophiles, microorganisms that thrive in high temperatures, produce some of the vibrant color of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.

"We know that we are only scratching the surface of what is out there. At the same time, many people are trying to decipher how these organisms function," said Kenneth Stedman, a biologist with the Center for Life in Extreme Environments at Portland State University in Oregon.

Earth's most extreme environments are thought to resemble those on distant planets. Discovering organisms that thrive in such conditions broadens our understanding of the limits to life on Earth. Organisms also provide clues on where to search for extraterrestrial life.

Learning how extremophiles thrive has led to a variety of innovations. Scientists have developed novel compounds for the development of new drugs and enzymes that make better laundry detergents, cleaner paper production, and hydrogen for fuel cells.

"Experimentally, we are coming of age," said Frank Robb, a molecular biologist at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore.

Robb is the chair of Extremophiles 2004: Fifth International Conference on Extremophiles, a five-day gathering in Cambridge, Maryland, that begins Sunday. He expects about 320 scientists from around the world to attend the meeting to discuss the latest advances in the field.

Conference

So what constitutes an extremophile? Other than the fact that all extremophiles are microbial, there is no common bond that defines an extremophile, according to Stedman, the Portland State University biologist and a conference co-chair. Rather, the differences that distinguish extremophiles from the more mundane mesophiles (organisms that live in "normal" climates and environmental conditions) are subtle.

By deciphering the genomes of extremophiles, scientists are now making their greatest advances in this field. For example, researchers have identified the subtle differences that allow the cell walls of certain microbes to hold up at temperatures above 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius).

"Genomics has made a very significant contribution to the modus operandi of all extremophile fields," Robb said.

Genomics are the primary focus for the upcoming extremophile conference. Participants will also focus on a class of microbes known as the archaea, which literally means "ancient." Archaea differ enough genetically from bacteria to warrant their own branch on the evolutionary tree of life.

Many archaea are extremophiles. Scientists believe archaea resemble the earliest forms of life on Earth.

Archaea split off from bacteria some four billion years ago. Ancestors that split from archaea evolved into eukaryotes—life-forms, including humans, whose cells have nuclei.

Archaea are more similar to eukaryotes than bacteria, but much simpler and easier to analyze than eukaryotes. Their study, as a result, has made important contributions to understanding how eukaryote DNA is repaired and copied, Robb said.

Such insights may lead to better treatments for diseases like cancer, since progression of the disease relies on DNA replication and cell division on a continual basis.

Archaea are also providing scientists insight to the process of how proteins are built inside cells. "Some outstanding discoveries have been made," including pyrrolysine, the 22nd amino acid known to science, Robb said.

Amino acids are the key building blocks of proteins. Scientists once thought only 21 amino acids existed. But in 2002 a group of researchers discovered a new amino acid, pyrrolysine, while studying extremophiles that produce methane or natural gas as a by-product of energy generation. The find indicated that the genetic code is more flexible than originally thought.

Hyperthermophiles

One of the more eagerly anticipated talks at the upcoming conference will be given by Karl Stetter. A microbiologist at the University of Regensburg in Germany, Stetter is recognized as one of the world's greatest extremophile hunters.

"I will concentrate on hyperthermophiles, which are the most extreme of all extremophiles and which represent my field of interest for 25 years," he said.

According to Stetter, hyperthermophiles are unusually shaped archaea. Some look like snakes. Others resemble yeastlike spheres and cobwebs. All require extreme heat for their survival.

Stetter will also talk about nanoarchaea, which he describes as "a novel kingdom of dwarfy archaea," and the first genome sequenced from the group. "The Nanoarchaea appear to be very ancient symbionts," he said, referring to life forms that live symbiotically with others, "most likely existing since the earliest days of life."
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/09/0917_040917_extremophiles.html
 

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More extremophiles found:

Microbes Found in Saltiest Place

By Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News

Jan. 12, 2005 — Microbes have been found living happily in one of Earth's saltiest places, raising questions about how the microbes manage the feat and giving clues to where life might hide on other worlds.

The single-celled microorganism community was discovered in an oxygen-deprived brine lake at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Greece. The three-square-mile brine pond is in what's called the Discovery basin. It gets its super-salty magnesium chloride (MgCl2) from a layer of salt deposited more than five million years ago, when the sea temporarily dried up.

"The Discovery brine is relatively young (3,000 years) and MgCl2 is the first salt that will dissolve in the water," said researcher Paul van der Wielen of the University of Groningen in Netherlands. "This has resulted in a brine with extraordinary concentrations of MgCl2."

Van der Weilen leads the team that found the extraordinary microbes and published the findings in the current issue of Science.

According to earlier work on the Discovery brine, the magnesium concentration is about 100 times that of seawater, the calcium concentrations about 18 times seawater, while the sodium and calcium concentrations are, oddly enough, around ten times less than sea water.

Just as any saltwater is denser and can form a layer beneath fresh water, the Discovery brine forms a very dense layer under the regular sea water in the Discovery Basin. There are other salty basins in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in the world, but none found with microbes living in such high levels of MgCL2.

"I have seen film of brines in one of the oceans where a fish got trapped in the brine and it was unable to escape," said van der Wielen.

The brine poses no such problem for several kinds of bacteria and at least one other kind of microbe belonging to the group known as Archaea.

"It's a very unusual brine," said brine ecologist Carol Litchfield of George Mason University in Virginia.

For one thing, there isn't much calcium or sodium in the brine, which are the usual chemical partners of chlorine in making salt (sodium chloride, NaCl; calcium chloride, CaCl), she said. Sodium, in particular, is important in the creation of ATP — the fuel that runs living cells.

"This raises a whole lot of questions," said Litchfield.

How do these microbes make ATP? How do they keep their interiors from being flooded with MgCl2?

It also points to the possibility of extraterrestrial life in brines on Mars, where salts might allow water to remain liquid at very low temperatures.

"It does open up a possibility in the search," said Litchfield.
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January 26, 2005

Last modified January 26, 2005 - 12:48 am


Surprise: Hot-spring creatures use hydrogen

By MIKE STARK
Of The Gazette Staff

The tiny, unseen life forms that live in Yellowstone National Park's most extreme environments still guard some secrets.

But the search to reveal one of those secrets - the fuel for primitive life forms in Yellowstone's colorful hot springs - turned up a surprise.

According to new research, the major energy source for certain primitive organisms living in the park's thermal areas is not sulfur, as your nose may have suggested to you, but hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe.

New possibilities

The finding announced Tuesday by researchers at the University of Colorado could mark a shift in what's known about Yellowstone's mysterious hot-spring dwellers. It could also bolster the argument for life in other extreme environments, such as Mars.

"In my mind it's more of a possibility now than before," said John Spear, lead author of the report. "If there is life elsewhere, it could be that hydrogen is the fuel."

The Colorado researchers spent five years trying to understand what gives microbes the energy to survive in Yellowstone's churning caldrons and bubbling pools.

Their findings, published this week in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discount the common notion that sulfur is the driving force for heat-loving microbes. Sulfur plays a role, Spear said, but is often secondary to hydrogen.

"I think this might change how we look at the whole system," Spear said.

The research focused on hot springs with temperatures warmer than 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that temperature, photosynthesis - the process plants use to convert light energy into chemical energy - doesn't happen.

Genetic analysis of Yellowstone microbes showed that they preferred hydrogen as a fuel source.

Researchers went to the park to see how much hydrogen was available for the organisms to absorb and convert into energy.

Hot springs discovery

"We probed around at different hot springs and sure enough we found it. A lot of it," Spear said.

Much of the hydrogen probably comes when water comes into contact with iron-bearing rock, which there is plenty of in Yellowstone. When a hydrogen molecule floats by, enzymes on the surface of a microbe can grab the molecule and begin turning it into usable energy.

That use of hydrogen by microscopic living things at Yellowstone probably dates back eons, a primitive relationship that has allowed the tiny organisms to thrive.

But it has been difficult for people to understand.

Yellowstone's vast system of hot springs - and the microbes that call them home - has increasingly become a focus of research in recent years. Even so, scientists say they've identified less than 1 percent of the organisms that inhabit thermal features.

The Colorado research was the first time that scientists were able to look at an entire ecosystem in a microbial community.

Samples about the size of a pencil eraser were taken out of hot springs and frozen in liquid nitrogen. They provided a real-life look at the microbes instead of trying to grow organisms in a petri dish.

"We found it's spectacularly complex out there. Far more complex than any of us thought," said Norman Pace, a professor at the University of Colorado.

The research could provide benefits outside Yellowstone's boundaries.

Spear said understanding the relationship between microbes and hydrogen could shed light on other extreme environments where life forms thrive on hydrogen. The bacteria that cause ulcers live on hydrogen in the stomach, he said. Salmonella also use it.

"It makes me wonder how many different kind of microbes out there are metabolizing hydrogen," Spear said.

The findings in Yellowstone could open the possibility of life on other planets such as Mars. Recent Rover missions on Mars have revealed evidence of water. Microbes that use hydrogen may be out there, too.

"If it works this way on Earth, it's likely to happen elsewhere," Spear said. "When you look up at the stars, there is a lot of hydrogen in the universe."

The tiny, unseen life forms that live in Yellowstone National Park's most extreme environments still guard some secrets.

But the search to reveal one of those secrets - the fuel for primitive life forms in Yellowstone's colorful hot springs - turned up a surprise.

According to new research, the major energy source for certain primitive organisms living in the park's thermal areas is not sulfur, as your nose may have suggested to you, but hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe.

New possibilities

The finding announced Tuesday by researchers at the University of Colorado could mark a shift in what's known about Yellowstone's mysterious hot-spring dwellers. It could also bolster the argument for life in other extreme environments, such as Mars.

"In my mind it's more of a possibility now than before," said John Spear, lead author of the report. "If there is life elsewhere, it could be that hydrogen is the fuel."

The Colorado researchers spent five years trying to understand what gives microbes the energy to survive in Yellowstone's churning caldrons and bubbling pools.

Their findings, published this week in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discount the common notion that sulfur is the driving force for heat-loving microbes. Sulfur plays a role, Spear said, but is often secondary to hydrogen.

"I think this might change how we look at the whole system," Spear said.

The research focused on hot springs with temperatures warmer than 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that temperature, photosynthesis - the process plants use to convert light energy into chemical energy - doesn't happen.

Genetic analysis of Yellowstone microbes showed that they preferred hydrogen as a fuel source.

Researchers went to the park to see how much hydrogen was available for the organisms to absorb and convert into energy.

Hot springs discovery

"We probed around at different hot springs and sure enough we found it. A lot of it," Spear said.

Much of the hydrogen probably comes when water comes into contact with iron-bearing rock, which there is plenty of in Yellowstone. When a hydrogen molecule floats by, enzymes on the surface of a microbe can grab the molecule and begin turning it into usable energy.

That use of hydrogen by microscopic living things at Yellowstone probably dates back eons, a primitive relationship that has allowed the tiny organisms to thrive.

But it has been difficult for people to understand.

Yellowstone's vast system of hot springs - and the microbes that call them home - has increasingly become a focus of research in recent years. Even so, scientists say they've identified less than 1 percent of the organisms that inhabit thermal features.

The Colorado research was the first time that scientists were able to look at an entire ecosystem in a microbial community.

Samples about the size of a pencil eraser were taken out of hot springs and frozen in liquid nitrogen. They provided a real-life look at the microbes instead of trying to grow organisms in a petri dish.

"We found it's spectacularly complex out there. Far more complex than any of us thought," said Norman Pace, a professor at the University of Colorado.

The research could provide benefits outside Yellowstone's boundaries.

Spear said understanding the relationship between microbes and hydrogen could shed light on other extreme environments where life forms thrive on hydrogen. The bacteria that cause ulcers live on hydrogen in the stomach, he said. Salmonella also use it.

"It makes me wonder how many different kind of microbes out there are metabolizing hydrogen," Spear said.

The findings in Yellowstone could open the possibility of life on other planets such as Mars. Recent Rover missions on Mars have revealed evidence of water. Microbes that use hydrogen may be out there, too.

"If it works this way on Earth, it's likely to happen elsewhere," Spear said. "When you look up at the stars, there is a lot of hydrogen in the universe."


-------------------
Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.
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Public release date: 20-Apr-2005
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Contact: Norman Pace
[email protected]
303-735-1864

Jeffrey Walker
[email protected].
303-735-1808

Jim Scott
303-492-3114

University of Colorado at Boulder

Extreme life discovery in Yellowstone bodes well for astrobiologists, says Colorado U. study

pH value in rock pores where organisms live acidic enough to dissolve nails, say researchers

University of Colorado at Boulder researchers say a bizarre group of microbes found living inside rocks in an inhospitable geothermal environment at Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park could provide tantalizing new clues about ancient life on Earth and help steer the hunt for evidence of life on Mars.

The CU-Boulder research team reported the microbes were discovered in the pores of rocks in a highly acidic environment with high concentrations of metals and silicates at roughly 95 degrees F in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin. The new study shows the microbe communities are subject to fossilization and have the potential to become preserved in the geologic record.

Scientists believe similar kinds of geothermal environments may once have existed on Mars, where astrobiologists have intensified the search for past and present life forms in recent years.

A paper by CU-Boulder doctoral student Jeffrey Walker, postdoctoral fellow John Spear and Professor Norman Pace of CU-Boulder's molecular, cellular and developmental biology department and the Center for Astrobiology appears in the April 21 issue of Nature.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

"This is the first description of these microbial communities, which may be a good diagnostic indicator of past life on Mars because of their potential for fossil preservation," said Walker. "The prevalence of this type of microbial life in Yellowstone means that Martian rocks associated with former hydrothermal systems may be the best hope for finding evidence of past life there."

Located about 20 miles northwest of Yellowstone Lake, Norris Geyser Basin is considered to be the hottest and most active geyser basin in Yellowstone and perhaps the world. It also is extremely acidic, according to the researchers.

"The pores in the rocks where these creatures live has a pH value of one, which dissolves nails," said Pace. "This is another example that life can be robust in an environment most humans view as inhospitable."

The process used to identify the organisms developed by Pace is much more sensitive than standard lab-culturing techniques that typically yield a small, biased fraction of organisms from any environment, said Walker. In this method, the researchers detected and identified organisms by reading gene sequences.

"Each kind of organism has a unique sequence, which is used to map its position in the tree of life," said Walker. "It's a family tree of sorts that describes the genetic relationship between all known organisms."

Walker discovered the new microbe community in 2003 after breaking apart a chunk of sandstone-like rock in the Norris Geyser Basin. "I immediately noticed a distinctive green band just beneath the surface," he said. "It was one of those 'eureka' moments."

An analysis determined the green band was caused by a new species of photosynthetic microbes in the Cyanidium group, a kind of alga that is among the most acid-tolerant photosynthetic organisms known, said Walker. Cyanidium organisms made up about 26 percent of the microbes identified in the Norris Geyser Basin study by the CU-Boulder team, Walker said.

Surprisingly, the most abundant microbes identified by the team were a new species of Mycobacterium, a group of microbes best known for causing human illnesses like tuberculosis and leprosy, Walker said. Extremely rare and never before identified in such extreme hydrothermal environments, Mycobacterium made up 37 percent of the total number of microbes identified by the CU-Boulder team.

Pace described the new life form in the Norris Geyser Basin as "pretty weird." "It may well be a new type of lichen-like symbiosis," said Pace, who won a MacArthur Fellowship, or "genius grant," in 2001. "It resembles a lichen, but instead of being comprised of a symbiosis between a fungus and an alga, it seems to be an association of the Mycobacterium with an alga."

While photosynthesis appears to be a key energy source for most of the creatures, at least some of Yellowstone microbes are believed to get energy from the dissolved metals and hydrogen found in the pore water of the rock, Walker said. A study by the CU-Boulder team published in January 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences indicated Yellowstone microbe populations living in hot springs at temperatures more than 158 degrees F use hydrogen as their primary fuel source.

The research effort in the Norris Geyser Basin shows that rock formation processes occurring in the hydrothermal environment under study make very real fossil imprints of the organisms embedded in the rock at various stages, showing how the distinctive fossils develop over time, according to the research team.

"Remnants of these communities could serve as 'biosignatures' and provide important clues about ancient life associated with geothermal environments on Earth or elsewhere in the Solar System," the authors wrote in Nature.
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Life Below The Limit

These close-up images, taken by an electron microscope, reveal tiny one-cell organisms called halophiles and methanogens. Studies show these microbes can survive at below-freezing temperatures and are within the temperature range on present-day Mars.Credit: Maryland Astrobiology Consortium, NASA and STScI.
by Staff Writers
Baltimore MD (SPX) Oct 23, 2006
A class of especially hardy microbes that live in some of the harshest Earthly environments could flourish on cold Mars and other chilly planets, according to a research team of astronomers and microbiologists. In a two-year laboratory study, the researchers discovered that some cold-adapted microorganisms not only survived but reproduced at 30 degrees Fahrenheit, just below the freezing point of water.
The microbes also developed a defense mechanism that protected them from cold temperatures.

The researchers are members of a unique collaboration of astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute and microbiologists from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute's Center of Marine Biotechnology in Baltimore, Md. Their results appear on the International Journal of Astrobiology website.

"The low temperature limit for life is particularly important since, in both the solar system and the Milky Way Galaxy, cold environments are much more common than hot environments," said Neill Reid, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute and leader of the research team.

"Our results show that the lowest temperatures at which these organisms can thrive fall within the temperature range experienced on present-day Mars, and could permit survival and growth, particularly beneath Mars's surface. This could expand the realm of the habitable zone, the area in which life could exist, to colder Mars-like planets."

Most stars in our galaxy are cooler than our Sun. The zone around these stars that is suitable for Earth-like temperatures would be smaller and narrower than the so-called habitable zone around our Sun. Therefore, the majority of planets would likely be colder than Earth.

In their study, the scientists tested the coldest temperature limits for two types of one-cell organisms: halophiles and methanogens. They are among a group of microbes collectively called extremophiles, so-named because they live in hot springs, acidic fields, salty lakes, and polar ice caps under conditions that would kill humans, animals, and plants.

Halophiles flourish in salty water, such as the Great Salt Lake, and have DNA repair systems to protect them from extremely high radiation doses. Methanogens are capable of growth on simple compounds like hydrogen and carbon dioxide for energy and can turn their waste into methane.

The halophiles and methanogens used in the experiments are from Antarctic lakes. In the laboratory, the halophiles displayed significant growth to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 1 degree Celsius). The methanogens were active to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 degrees Celsius).

"We have extended the lower temperature limits for these species by several degrees," said Shiladitya DasSarma, a professor and a leader of the team at the Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. "We had a limited amount of time to grow the organisms in culture, on the order of months. If we could extend the growth time, I think we could lower the temperatures at which they can survive even more. The brine culture in which they grow in the laboratory can remain in liquid form to minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28 degrees Celsius), so the potential is there for significantly lower growth temperatures."

The scientists also were surprised to find that the halophiles and methanogens protected themselves from frigid temperatures. Some arctic bacteria show similar behavior.

"These organisms are highly adaptable, and at low temperatures they formed cellular aggregates," DasSarma explained. "This was a striking result, which suggests that cells may 'stick together' when temperatures become too cold for growth, providing ways of survival as a population. This is the first detection of this phenomenon in Antarctic species of extremophiles at cold temperatures."

The scientists selected these extremophiles for the laboratory study because they are potentially relevant to life on cold, dry Mars. Halophiles could thrive in salty water underneath Mars's surface, which can remain liquid at temperatures well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Methanogens could survive on a planet without oxygen, such as Mars. In fact, some scientists have proposed that methanogens produced the methane detected in Mars's atmosphere.

"This finding demonstrates that rigorous scientific studies on known extremophiles on Earth can provide clues to how life may survive elsewhere in the universe," DasSarma said.

The researchers next plan to map the complete genetic blueprint for each extremophile. By inventorying all of the genes, scientists will be able to determine the functions of each gene, such as pinpointing the genes that protect an organism from the cold.

Many extremophiles are evolutionary relics called Archaea, which may have been among the first homesteaders on Earth 3.5 billion years ago. These robust extremophiles may be able to survive in many places in the universe, including some of the roughly 200 worlds around stars outside our solar system that astronomers have found over the past decade. These planets are in a wide range of environments, from so-called 'hot Jupiters,' which orbit close to their stars and where temperatures exceed 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius), to gas giants in Jupiter-like orbits, where temperatures are around minus 238 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 150 degrees Celsius).

The discovery of planets with huge temperature disparities has scientists wondering what environments could be hospitable to life. A key factor in an organism's survival is determining the upper and lower temperature limits at which it can live.

Although Martian weather conditions are extreme, the planet does share some similarities with the most extreme cold regions of Earth, such as Antarctica. Long regarded as essentially barren of life, recent investigations of Antarctic environments have revealed considerable microbial activity.

"The Archaea and bacteria that have adapted to these extreme conditions are some of the best candidates for terrestrial analogues of potential extraterrestrial life; understanding their adaptive strategy, and its limitations, will provide deeper insight into fundamental constraints on the range of hospitable environments," DasSarma said.
http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Life_ ... t_999.html
 
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EnolaGaia

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Copied from the Lake Natron thread:
The Petrifying Waters Of Lake Natron
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/the-petrifying-waters-of-lake-natron.54295/


Unless you are an alkaline tilapia (Alcolapia alcalica) – an extremophile fish adapted to the harsh conditions – it is not the best place to live. Temperatures in the lake can reach 60 °C, and its alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.5. ...
More info about these extremophile fish can be found at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcolapia

Alcolapia is a genus within which there are 4 recognized species.
 

EnolaGaia

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The location widely considered to be the acid test (pun intended ... ) for the limits of extremophile viability is the Dallol geothermal springs in Ethiopia. A 2016 study concluded there was evidence of extremophile life there. A newly-published study claims the 2016 conclusions were wrong (or at least unjustified).
Scientists Say They've Found a Place on Earth Where No Life Can Thrive

Where there's water, there's life, the thinking loosely goes. New evidence suggests starkly otherwise – or at least identifies some harsh new parameters on where life and water may (or may not) be able to co-exist.

To find these limits, scientists travelled to one of the most extreme and inhospitable environments on Earth: the Dallol geothermal springs in Ethiopia's Danakil Depression.

This hellish, salty waterworld is generally considered the hottest inhabited place on the planet, but it's unique for all sorts of reasons that go beyond mere stifling heat.

The Dallol landscape is punctuated by cratered lakes of hyperacidic, hypersaline water coloured in a vibrant palette of greens, yellows, oranges, and browns.

It looks pretty from a distance in a kind of otherworldly way, but don't get too close; the heated pools make for a toxic, gas-saturated brine, courtesy of a smouldering volcano hidden underneath the exotic surface.

Because of Dallol's extreme environment, the area has long fascinated scientists. One publicised research expedition in 2016 set out to find what – if anything – might dwell in such unwelcoming, alien surrounds.

"It is an amazing but hostile place… the chlorine vapour burned our airways," expedition leader Felipe Gómez from Spain's Centro de Astrobiologia said at the time.

"Any microorganisms living here will be extremophilic microbes of a major interest to astrobiologists."

The results of that survey got published only a few months ago, with the team reporting what they said was the first evidence of life existing among the hot, acidic springs: "ultra-small microorganisms" measuring only nanometres in size.

Now, a new study led by a separate team of scientists disputes the seeming discovery of this archaea – or at least the relevance of the finding.

"We refute the recent claim of life in the polyextreme Dallol hydrothermal ponds," microbiologist Jodie Belilla from the Université Paris-Sud in France tweeted in June, when a pre-print of her team's counter-argument became first available.

"Is there life in the hyperacidic + hypersaline Dallol pools?," the researchers asked.

"We say no, based on combined molecular and microscopy techniques, though we find many airborne and human-associated contaminants." ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-say-they-ve-found-a-place-on-earth-where-no-life-can-thrive
 

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There is a restaurant in Bangkok called Wattana Panich. They have a broth which they have kept simmering continuously for 45 years. I do wonder if that might have become an ecosystem of it's own.
 
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