Lake Vida Expedition Image 8
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Lake Vida Expedition (Image 8)

July 3, 2012
Alison Murray, a molecular ecologist with the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., uses an oxygen-free glove bag to work with brine from Lake Vida in Antarctica. Murray was principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-supported 2011 Lake Vida expedition, the purpose of which was to access the isolated and ice-bound brine ecosystem and underlying sediments in this unusual, mostly frozen lake--one of the highest and coldest of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. The expedition focused on understanding the nature of this enigmatic, cryogenic system that supports a living microbial community at very low temperatures (minus 13 degrees Celsius; 7 degrees Fahrenheit) and in a highly concentrated brine (seven times the salinity of seawater). This research has implications for other isolated systems including subglacial lakes, icy planets and moons in the solar system. The research was supported by NSF grants ANT 07-39681 and ANT 07-39698 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Murray was principal investigator. Credit: Peter Rejcek

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