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Latest Archaea Stories

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2009-12-24 07:40:00

The Earth is estimated to have about a nonillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) microbes in, on, around, and under it, comprised of an unknown but very large number of distinct species. Despite the widespread availability of microbial genome data"”close to 2,000 microbes have been and are being decoded to date"”a vast unknown realm awaits scientists intent on exploring microorganisms that inhabit this "undiscovered country." Two thousand years after Pliny the Elder...

2009-11-25 14:56:51

Bacteria don't have easy lives. In addition to mammalian immune systems that besiege the bugs, they have natural enemies called bacteriophages, viruses that kill half the bacteria on Earth every two days. Still, bacteria and another class of microorganisms called archaea (first discovered in extreme environments such as deep-sea volcanic vents) manage just fine, thank you, in part because they have a built-in defense system that helps protect them from many viruses and other invaders. A team...

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2009-10-16 08:00:01

Sediment samples from methane cold seeps off California shed light on mystery Scientists have identified an unexpected metabolic ability in a symbiotic community of deep-sea microorganisms. It may help solve a lingering mystery about the world's nitrogen cycle. The element nitrogen is a critical part of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and therefore essential to all life. Although nitrogen is plentiful on Earth--it represents 78 percent of the atmosphere, by volume--the element...

2009-10-01 09:26:57

It's not every day you find clues to the planet's inner workings in aquarium scum. But that's what happened a few years ago when University of Washington researchers cultured a tiny organism from the bottom of a Seattle Aquarium tank and found it can digest ammonia, a key environmental function. New results show this minute organism and its brethren play a more central role in the planet's ecology than previously suspected. The findings, published online today in the journal Nature, show that...

2009-07-15 11:29:12

A microscopic single-celled organism, adapted to survive in some of the harshest environments on earth, could help scientists gain a better understanding of how cancer cells behave.Experts at The University of Nottingham were astonished to discover that the archaeon Haloferax volcanii was better at repairing DNA damage if enzymes, that are widely considered to be critically important in coordinating the repair of DNA, were mutated.Dr Thorsten Allers, from the Institute of Genetics, said:...

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2009-07-15 10:40:00

A microscopic single-celled organism, adapted to survive in some of the harshest environments on earth, could help scientists gain a better understanding of how cancer cells behave.Experts at The University of Nottingham were astonished to discover that the archaeon Haloferax volcanii was better at repairing DNA damage if enzymes, that are widely considered to be critically important in coordinating the repair of DNA, were mutated.Dr Thorsten Allers, from the Institute of Genetics, said:...

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2009-07-09 13:45:00

Iron and manganese compounds, in addition to sulfate, may play an important role in converting methane to carbon dioxide and eventually carbonates in the Earth's oceans, according to a team of researchers looking at anaerobic sediments. These same compounds may have been key to methane reduction in the early, oxygenless days of the planet's atmosphere."We used to believe that microbes only consumed methane in marine anaerobic sediment if sulfate was present," said Emily Beal, graduate student...

2009-06-23 10:18:07

Nickel, an important trace nutrient for the single cell organisms that produce methane, may be a useful isotopic marker to pinpoint the past origins of these methanogenic microbes, according to Penn State and University of Bristol, UK, researchers."Our data suggest significant potential in nickel stable isotopes for identifying and quantifying methanogenesis on the early Earth," said Vyllinniskii Cameron, recent Penn State Ph.D. recipient in geosciences and astrobiology and currently a...

2009-05-28 14:32:15

U.S. scientists say they've discovered populations of the microbe Sulfolobus islandicus that can live in boiling acid are more diverse than thought. University of Illinois researchers in Champaign said they found the diversity of S. islandicus is driven largely by geographic isolation and that finding demonstrates, for the first time, that geography trumps other factors that influence the makeup of genes in organism hosts. The researchers, led by Professor Rachel Whitaker, compared three...

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2009-05-27 11:23:28

Sulfolobus islandicus, a microbe that can live in boiling acid, is offering up its secrets to researchers hardy enough to capture it from the volcanic hot springs where it thrives. In a new study, researchers report that populations of S. islandicus are more diverse than previously thought, and that their diversity is driven largely by geographic isolation. The findings open a new window on microbial evolution, demonstrating for the first time that geography can trump other factors that...