Chrysobacterium greenlandensis
Ian Jay

I have chosen the microbe Chryseobacterium greenlandensis for my microbe of the week.  This is a small, bacillus shaped microbe that was recently isolated in the arctic tundra of the Greenland glaciers.  In fact, the research of this microbe was presented just last year on June 3 by Jennifer Loveland-Curtze, PhD., a senior research associate for Penn State University to the 108th American Society for Microbiology.  As of now, the Chryseobacterium greenlandensis microbe is still being studied physiologically, genetically, metabolically, and biochemically.  There is much to learn from this organism, but possibly the most significant aspect is it contributes to the study of how organisms can survive extremely cold temperatures not just on this planet, but also planets from different solar systems.  What I and also the researchers of this bug find so important is the fact that it survives two miles beneath the polar capped surface and has survived this way for 120,000 years under conditions that include very little to no food, no oxygen, high pressure and extreme cold temperatures. 

What is known is that this microbe is very small, in fact, so small that is can pass through microbial filters.  Being roughly 10 to 100 times smaller than E. coli., this small size possibly eludes as to why it has survived for so long under such harsh conditions as it can evade predators easier, plus it needs much smaller concentrations of nutrients for growth.  The exploration of isolating this microscale bug was funded by multiple big league foundations such as NASA, Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.  To acquire the microbe, a drill dome called GISP2 (Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2) obtains an ice core some 3,000 meters into the earth of which a 6 meter sectional core is removed carefully from the drill and then extruded into 2 meter sections with a band saw.  It is then placed in a core processing line kept at temperatures never above -15 degrees Celsius so as to prevent any micro-cracks from occurring.  It is then carefully filtered from melted ice and incubated in a cold solution with no oxygen and very little nutrients.  The survival of this organism pays homage not just to how an organism can continue to grow in such harsh environments, but also to the notion that there are fewer than 8,000 species isolated of the estimated 3 million presumed to exist on Earth.

 

*Disclaimer - This report was written by a student participaring in a microbiology course at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The accuracy of the contents of this report is not guaranteed and it is recommended that you seek additional sources of information to verify the contents.

 

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