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Microbial Genomics

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In hot water with extremophiles

Adventures in Genomics
May 8, 2018

Extremophiles (noun)- An organism adapted to living in conditions of extreme temperature, pressure, or chemical concentration, as in highly acidic or salty environments.

One hypothesis regarding the origin of life is that it may have originated in ancient hot springs, or, as Darwin claimed, in some “warm little pond”. While there still remains no consensus on how life originated, it is true that very special microbes populate hot springs. On a quest for discovery, Illumina’s Jacques Retrief and Irene Predazzi traveled to Gerlach, Nevada, to interview Dr. Brian Hedlund, Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Dr. Hedlund’s research focuses on life in high temperature habitats, particularly terrestrial hot springs. Through his multidisciplinary approach, he is discovering new groups of life that have yet to be explored by science. These organisms likely diverged from known lineages of microbes over a billion years ago. Thanks to genomics, he is discovering new classes of organisms, learning how to culture microbes and discovering new insights about microbial life in general.

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