Monday, 9 July 2018

New lineage of microbes living in Yellowstone

Montana State University scientists have found a new lineage of microbes living in Yellowstone National Park's thermal features that sheds light on the origin of life, the evolution of archaeal life and the importance of iron in early life.

The scientists called the new archaeal lineage Marsarchaeota after Mars, the red planet, because these organisms thrive in habitats containing iron oxides. Within Marsarchaeota, they discovered two main subgroups that live throughout Yellowstone and thrive in hot, acidic water where iron oxide is the main mineral. One subgroup lives in water above 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and the other lives in water above 140 to 176 degrees. The water is about as acidic as grapefruit juice. Their microbial mats are red because of the iron oxide.

Archaea is one of the three domains of life, the others being bacteria and eukaryotes. Like bacteria, archaea are single-cell organisms. The eukaryote domain contains more cellularly complex organisms, such as humans, other animals, plants and fungi.


Zackary J. Jay, Jacob P. Beam, Mensur Dlakić, Douglas B. Rusch, Mark A. Kozubal, William P. Inskeep. Marsarchaeota are an aerobic archaeal lineage abundant in geothermal iron oxide microbial matsNature Microbiology, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-018-0163-1

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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