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Microbial life in ice

Buford Price, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Wednesday, December 18, 2002
3:00 p.m. Pacific Forum

                
All known life requires liquid water and a source of energy and bioelements. I will show that natural ice satisfies these re-quirements and offers habitats for microbial life. Impurities such as acids and salts concentrate at triple junctions of grains in ice, forming a net-work of liquid veins a few microns in diam-eter (see picture). I will present evidence that terrestrial microbes take advantage of such icy habitats. Some or all of the following topics will be discussed:

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 Epifluorescence microscopy of sections of ice cores

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 Cultivation of microbes living on silt inside polar ice 
 and permafrost

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 Biologging for microbial autofluorescence in glacial
 ice, lakes, and oceans

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Habitats for life in Martian permafrost and Europan ice

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Measuring longevity of bacterial spores in ice

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Measuring microbial metabolic rate in ice

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