Shocking News from Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents

TUE, JUL 10, 2012 (59:17)

"Deep-sea hydrothermal vents represent one of the most extreme areas of Earth's biosphere: extreme heat, pressure, toxicity, darkness. What kinds of organisms have adapted to such an environment and how do they manage to thrive? The efforts to find out have changed the scientific view of the necessary conditions for life. Professor Peter Girguis describes the unexpected and unique biodiversity at the hydrothermal vents. He focuses especially on the microbes in this environment that are able to metabolize using a process called extracellular electron transfer (EET). This remarkable system is not only instructive about extreme adaptations; it has potential practical applications.

In addition to his discussion of the adaptations of hydrothermal organisms, Dr. Girguis talks about the challenges of exploring the deep-sea hydrothermal vents, both with manned and robotic submersibles. And he also describes a project that invites the participation of citizen scientists.

What is an extremophile? Find out more here: http://www.scienceforthepublic.org/things-to-know/life/life-extreme-forms-of-life/"

+ BIO: Peter Girguis

Peter Girguis grew up in Los Angeles and has been entranced by the oceans since youth. Girguis' research focuses on microbial physiology and the role that autotrophic microbes play in deep ocean carbon and nitrogen cycling. His research also focuses on developing new sensors for use in the deep oceans, and he is currently developing several new instruments for use at hydrothermal vents.

Girguis received his BSc from the UCLA and his PhD from UC Santa Barbara. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and is currently an assistant professor in Harvard University's Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology.

+ BIO: Yvonne Stapp

Yvonne Stapp runs Science for the Public, a grassroots organization whose mission is to improve public understanding of science. Science is essential to the vitality of modern culture, and science depends on public commitment to the scientific community

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