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Cyanobacteria in Pools (Image 1)

July 2, 2010
Cyanobacteria in Pools (Image 1) Bacteria in pools at Cuatro Ciénegas in Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert live communally, forming coral-like "stromatolites" that are geologically identical to 3.5 billion-year-old fossils that are believed to be the oldest evidence of life on Earth. Janet Siefert, a Rice University computational biologist and colleagues wanted to examine ecosystems similar to those that existed on Earth more than 3 billion years. At Cuatro Ciénegas, they studyied cyanobacteria living in a network of more than 200 spring-fed pools, or "pozas," where they made the surprising discovery that viruses that infect bacteria are sometimes parochial and unrelated to their counterparts in other regions of the globe. Support for the study was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Area de Proteccion de Flora y Fauna of Cuatro Ciénegas and the University of South Florida's Internal New Research Awards Program. To learn more about this research, the results of which were published in the journal Nature, see the EurekAlert story, "Biologists Surprised to Find Parochial Bacterial Viruses." (Date of Image: 2004) [See Image 2.]