Grand Prismatic

“Microbes of Grand Prismatic”

Courtney Hill

In this drawing I set out to capture the Grand Prismatic Spring located in Yellowstone National Park. Notable for its vibrant colors and layered features the spring is a popular attraction. The attractive color scheme is actually a result of the various microbes that constitute the different environments  in each layer. Temperatures in the spring rage from 145 to 188 °F so it is evident that only the most thermophilic microbes will be sustainable. Further microbial selection is a result of the temperature differences in each layer. Essentially, each band of the spring represents a mini-ecosystem. The colors that each layer produces is a result of what pigments the microbes possess.

Outside of the circular depiction of the spring I drew some of the microbes that represent the microbiomes found in the park. There are thermophilic Bacteria and Archaea that have developed amazing techniques to survive extreme conditions. One such example is the genus Sulfolobus (yellow-brown microbe near bottom of drawing) which uses mechanisms involving DNA exchange and homologous recombination to aid in DNA repair that is necessary for living in high temperature.