Extremities:  Geology and Life in Yellowstone and Implications for Other Worlds


Back at Montana State University, Dr. Ward opened his teaching laboratory to us. He prepared the microbial mat samples we had collected for optical microscopy, and we saw what kinds of cells were in the mats. The colors on these images are not necessarily right, and the striping is from interference between the video monitor and the digital camera and the overhead lights.

Green Nymph Mat

Filaments of the microbe Chloroflexus from the pink bottom layer of the Octopus Springs mat. Chloroflexus is a 'green' non-sulfur bacteria, though it is not green. It lives by anoxygenic photosynthesis, similar to Chromatium in the New Pit at Mammoth. Unlike Chromatium, however, Chloroflexus does not require hydrogen sulfide (as an electron donor) -- it also uses hydrogen gas in the water and probably organic material too. Its reflectance spectrum is characteristic of bacteriochlorophyll c.
A Cyanidium microbial mat from Nymph Creek (photo c/o Dr. D. Ward). Our sample was similar, but more jelly-like. Our sample did survived the trip from Yellowstone to Bozeman intact.
Cyanidium Fluoresces

Cyanidium caldedrium cells from the Nymph Creek mat we collected. Cyanidium, a "red" alga, is a eukaryote although its nuclei and other organs can't be seen here. The cells are about 5 micrometers diameter.
Ultraviolet fluorescence image of the Cyanidium cells from Nymph Creek.

Copyright Allan Treiman, LPI.
Updated 11/15/02.
Comments to webmaster@lpi.usra.edu.