Lab bits

Extreme Science

Since living conditions in other parts of our solar system are proving to be extreme, scientists searching for extraterrestrial life need to know something about creatures that can survive such conditions. Fortunately, they can study Earth's extremophiles-microbes that thrive in conditions that would kill most life forms.

This summer, in hopes of aiding the search for life on other planets and moons, scientists in the MBL's Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution are analyzing acid- and metal-loving extremophiles collected from the Rio Tinto, an ancient, acidic river in Spain, as well as microbes found in the super-hot conditions of deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

The research, funded by NASA, is designed to provide clues about the genetics and physiology of these specially adapted organisms. Such information is critical to helping astrobiologists hypothesize what kind of extraterrestrial life they might expect to find and how best to search for it.

Greetings from Bug Central

Cape Cod is well known for its beaches and seafood, but now it's also becoming a hot spot for the study of human parasites.

In fact, the MBL and the tiny village of Woods Hole are currently buzzing with an international array of established and aspiring parasitologists, who have come here especially to study the inner-workings of the bugs that cause malaria, African sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis, and leishmaniasis.

Parasitology is a serious business at the MBL, and it should be. In 1999, the World Health Organization listed infectious and parasitic diseases as a leading cause of death worldwide.

Recently, the MBL has attracted an increasing number of parasitologists, many of whom discovered the facility through the laboratory's Biology of Parasitism course, a highly regarded intensive graduate-level summer program. The course, which lasts from June 8 to August 6, draws facul

Contact: Gina Hebert
Marine Biological Laboratory

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