» Microbiology

Red Layer Microbial Observatory

Extreme temperature (45-60°C) microbial communities such as those thriving in hot springs in Yellowstone National Park are hypothesized to be modern analogues to the most ancient forms of life on earth. Evidence of stromatolites resembling modern mats exists from at least 3.6 billion years ago [Schopf and Packer, 1987]. Read More

Viruses from Yellowstone

Viruses of Archaeal hyper-thermophiles (temperatures in excess of 80oC) are interesting because they can reveal what kinds of biochemical modifications organisms have undergone to withstand the stresses of surviving in such extreme environments. Read More

McMurdo Dry Valleys

The Dry Valleys harbor the only permanently ice-covered lakes on Earth. The permanent ice covers greatly reduce wind-driven mixing, gas exchange between the atmosphere and the water column, light penetration, and the deposition of sediments. Read More

Paleoclimatology and Proxies: How Can We Infer Past Climates?

Paleoclimatology is the study of past climates. Since it is not possible to go back in time to see what climates were like, scientists use imprints created during past climate, known as proxies, to interpret paleoclimate. Microbial life, such as diatoms, forams, and coral serve as useful climate proxies. Other proxies include ice cores, tree rings, and sediment cores (which include diatoms, foraminifera, microbiota, pollen, and charcoal within the sediment and the sediment itself). Read More

Science Focus: Dead Zones

This is not the title of a sequel to a Stephen King novel. “Dead zones” in this context are areas where the bottom water (the water at the sea floor) is anoxic — meaning that it has very low (or completely zero) concentrations of dissolved oxygen. These dead zones are occurring in many areas along the coasts of major continents, and they are spreading over larger areas of the sea floor. Because very few organisms can tolerate the lack of oxygen in these areas, they can destroy the habitat in which numerous organisms make their home Read More

The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is an area of hypoxic waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River. High nutrient load from farm and industry runoff along the Mississippi River stimulates algal blooms, which eventually deplete dissolved oxygen in the water. Read More

Microbial Life in Marine Environments

Microbes account for more than 90% of ocean biomass and constitute a hidden majority of life that flourishes in the sea. What is even more surprising is that much of this microbial life remains unknown because we cannot culture it in a test tube and it is difficult to observe in nature. Read More

A Genomics-enabled Microbial Observatory in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The DeLong lab’s scientific interests focus primarily on questions in microbial biology. A large part of the lab’s efforts have been devoted to the study of microbes and microbial processes in the ocean, combining both laboratory and field-based approaches. In addition to specifically examining the role of archaea in marine microbial communities, the DeLong Lab has focused on the development and application of genomic technologies to answer fundamental questions central to microbial ecology and evolution. Much of the biological complexity of microbial ecosystems is encoded within the collective genomes of the community. Just as individual macromolecules can serve as documents of evolutionary history, naturally occurring genomes can provide unprecedented perspective on environmental, evolutionary and ecological history. Recent applications in the marine environment demonstrate that our understanding of the functional attributes, population biology, and natural history of extant microbes can now be significantly advanced using these new approaches. Read More

Diversity, Function, and Biogeochemical Consequences of Chemolithoautotrophic Archaea in Nevada Hot Springs

“Alkalithermophilic Chemolithoautotrophic Crenarchaeota” is a mouthful to say, but it precisely describes the new types of microbes being sought by Chuanlun Zhang, Christopher Romanek, Gary Mills, and Juergen Wiegel of the University of Georgia. Read More

Microbial Diversity of Prokaryotes in Marine Sponges of the Class Demospongiae

Sponges are the predominant organisms in many tropical reef ecosystems and contain a great diversity of microbial symbionts. These symbiotic bacteria can be responsible for up to 60% of the weight of the sponges, and many microbes have been found in sponges that have not been isolated from any other ecosystem. Read More


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