Art Project: “Extreme Environments”

My name is Kjersten Williams. For my art project, I decided to go with mixed media. I constructed the microbes’ background environments out of paper and colored pencil, and made the microbes themselves out of modeling clay, giving the project a bit of visual depth. For my subject, I decided to focus on a specific group of microbes: the temperature extremophiles. I wanted to showcase the variety of different morphologies and habitats of these microbes (through the relatively accurate depiction of the microbes and their respective environments), while also making a statement against the general belief that all microbes are “bad’ (hence, the added shaky eyes to make them cuter and more personable). These microbes live in environments which would be deemed uninhabitable to the majority of life forms on Earth. Due to their resilience and adaptability, they represent the type of organism which astrobiologists may be most likely to find on other planets!

There are a couple mesophiles included for the sake of contrast. The microbes represented are: Chloroflexus aurantiacus (the red snake-like thermophilic bacterium represented against the background of a hot spring area), Methanopyrus kandleri (the blue, rod-shaped hyperthermophilic archaea set against the background of hydrothermal vents), Deinococcus radiodurans (a mesophilic bacteria represented by the green tetrad set against the forest background), Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans (a mesophilic bacterium represented by the purple, rod-shaped microbe with the pink flagellum), Psychrobacter arcticus (the blue diploid psychrophilic coccobacillus bacterium with pink spots, which is set against the aquatic background underneath the ice layers), and Planococcus halocryophilus (the blue-green diploid cocci bacterium set against the polar background).


Microbes Deep Down

Article Title:  Deepest Life on Earth May Be Lurking 6 Miles Beneath Ocean Floor

Source: LiveScience

Date: 4-11-17


Summary: This article the results of some research which looked into rocks spewed out of undersea volcanoes. The rocks are estimated to have come from a depth of ten thousand meter below the sea floor. In the rocks the researchers found chemical makers of microbes, such a complex carbon compounds.  While, no living microbes were found it could indicate that microbial life might extend to new unexpected depths in the Earth.

Connection: This article reminds me of the principle of ubiquity of microbes which states that microbes are found everywhere. Finding microbe that far under the surface of the earth defiantly supports that theory.

Critical Analysis: I found the article very interesting as I didn’t think that there was much life  that far below the surface of the Earth. However, it is worth noting that this research didn’t prove that the organic traces were from bacteria as the Earth’s crust does move and thus I could see other ways that organic matter could have gotten to those depths. Also I am wondering how they kept their samples from getting contaminated.

Question: If there are microbes at depths of ten thousand meters, what do they use as and energy, and carbon source? What sort of lifestyle do they have?

Canadian bacteria-like fossils called oldest evidence of life

Source: William Dunham of Reuters

Date: 01MAR2017



Microfossils found at Hudson Bay near Quebec show similarities to the microbes that exist today around hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.  This discovery adds weight to the Subsurface Hypothesis that life may have originated in  hydrothermal vents.

Connection: This was a very coincidental find as we have recently cover the Subsurface Hypothesis of the origin of life and hyperthermophiles/ extremophiles.

Analysis: While the thought of having “proof” of one hypothesis being correct is appealing, there is no way to be sure that the formations found in the quartz were formed by  ancient microbes.  Even in the article it says, “The researchers expressed confidence the fossils from northeastern Canada were formed by organisms, saying no non-biological explanation was plausible.”  They say plausible, but still possible.  Without more evidence outside of just the shapes they found, it is a hard road to convince the rest of the scientific community of its authenticity.

Question:  What level of evidence would the scientists need to convince the rest of their colleagues of their theory?