Microbes living in the brilliantly colored hot springs of Yellowstone National Park use primarily hydrogen for fuel, a discovery University of Colorado at Boulder researchers say bodes well for life in extreme environments on other planets and could add to understanding of bacteria inside the human body.
A team of CU-Boulder biologists led by Professor Norman Pace, one of the worlds leading experts on molecular evolution and microbiology, published their report "Hydrogen and bioenergetics in the Yellowstone geothermal system" this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The teams findings, based on several years of research at the park, refute the popular idea that sulfur is the main source of energy for tiny organisms living in thermal features. "It was a surprise to find hydrogen was the main energy source for microbes in the hot springs," Pace said. "This project is also interesting in the context of microbiology because its one of the few times weve been able to study microbes to get information on an entire ecosystem. Thats never before been possible."
Norman Pace | EurekAlert!
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