Most of the biodiversity of life on Earth is microbial. These microscopic organisms occupy almost any conceivable habitat where there is available water, energy and carbon for growth. They live in some of the most salty, cold, hot, nutrient-starved, dry and acidic places on this planet, and they form critical partnerships with many other organisms, including us. At deep-sea vents, microorganisms form the base of the food web, fueling the chemosynthetic-based ecosystem. Here, as the very hot hydrothermal fluids mix with the cold seawater, minerals precipitate out a solution to form mineral deposits called ‘chimneys’. These porous rocks provide habitats for a plethora of new heat-loving microbes, thermophiles.
Using a combination of genomic, ecological and microbiological approaches, Dr. Reysenbach will provide insights into how the geology and geochemistry at the deep-sea vents helps drive the diversity of microbes in these systems, and has led to the discovery of many novel branches on the Tree of Life. Many of these organisms have potential medical and industrial applications, and help inform us better when looking for signs of life elsewhere in the Solar System.
Anna-Louise Reysenbach, PhD, Professor of Microbiology in the Biology Department at PSU
Presenter Anna-Louise Reysenbach, PhD, is Professor of Microbiology in the Biology Department at PSU.
The Hollywood Theatre Science Pub takes place monthly and is open to all ages. There’s a $5 suggested cover charge.