text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
Search Multimedia
Image
Video
Audio
More
Multimedia in the News
NSF Executive Staff
News Archive
 

Email this pagePrint this page
Imagine That! - Strain 121


Imagine That!
Audio Play Audio

Imagine That! - Strain 121

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

Next time you walk on the sea floor, watch out for "black smoker" vents. They spew out water as hot as five hundred seventy-two degrees!

Imagine That!

What's surprising about these vents is not the temperatures they reach, which are a result of heat that leaks from the earth's core, but the organism scientists found inside them...alive! It's a tiny, single-celled hypothermophilic, or extreme heat-liking, microbe.

Lovley: "What's exciting about it is that it can grow at a temperature much higher than life was thought to exist...121 degrees Celsius."

Two hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit!!!

Lovley: "That's the temperature that's been used for at least 100 years to sterilize instruments or microbiological media, in other words, to eliminate all life. This is the temperature that you heat things up to, to try to kill everything, and what we found is Strain 121 grows at that temperature!"

That's microbiologist Derek Lovley at UMass. He says that Strain 121 is unique, along with other hypothermophilic organisms, in that it uses iron for its energy the way that humans use oxygen.

Scientists believe that "iron respirating" organisms like Strain 121 were the first forms of life on Earth. Studying these little guys also gives us clues as to what types of life might exist on the very sweltering, iron-plentiful planets like Mars. Now that's hot stuff. I'm Eric Phillips.

Imagine that covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at nsf. gov.

 
General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

RealPlayer icon
This Audio requires the free RealPlayer plug-in.

 



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page