BACK TO 1c: EXPLORING THE EXTREMES
NARROWING THE FOCUS
BY THE NEXT MORNING,
the team was clear on what they should focus on: Sulfolobus
and Acidianus, the extreme heat-and acid-loving prokaryotes
first discovered in Yellowstone National Park.
Why focus on these
thermoacidophilic organisms? Tom: "There's a lot easier access
here to information on hot pots, because there are scientists around
here who do studies, and the hot pots are really close by." Eric:
"I was able to find good information right away." Jamie:
"Life on Mars - it's pretty cool to think about, but there's
just not so much information. It takes six months just to get there,
and they can only do certain kinds of tests and stuff." Because
the team was from the Montana area, they were all familiar with Yellowstone's
hot spring features, where the life was found.
Their chosen topic
also is historically significant, because in many ways Thomas Brock's
discovery of the Sulfolobus and Acidianus organisms
began the search for life in extreme environments that continues to
this day. And if you plot the range of life forms on a graph, the
two organisms occupy a niche at the far end of two extremes: in an
environment both very hot and very acidic.
in boiling acid!" Justin said. "That's pretty extreme."