Microalgae from Antarctica to Ohio I - Adaptation in Extreme Environments: Video Transcript

Dr. Rachael Morgan-Kiss [Assistant Professor, Microbiology]: We have the opportunity to go to Antarctica about every 2-3 years, and we do this to work in a special type of environment, which is actually on the continent of Antarctica, in a place called the McMurdo Dry Valleys. And these dry valleys are really unique because they are one of the coldest, driest environments in the world, and we specifically study microbial communities that live in these lakes in the dry valleys.

"And these lakes are really unique in that they are the only source of liquid water for life on the Antarctic continent and, specifically, we actually study the photosynthetic organisms that reside in the lakes. They are also called microalgae. And we go to Antarctica both to collect new specimens of microalgae and isolate these organisms so we can study them back in our labs at Miami University. And we also go there to study how the organisms are actually adapted to their natural environment. So, you really have to go to these extreme environments to do these kinds of studies — like trying to understand what they're doing in their natural environments.

"Our research goals this year were to cultivate new organisms from the lakes, because there are actually very, very few microbes in cultivation from these lakes. This is actually a problem with microorganisms in general all over the entire world. It's thought that less than one percent of all microorganisms are currently available to study in laboratories, and this problem is even greater in extreme, pristine environments like the dry valley lakes.

[February 2011]