How do the organisms survive, and how do the scientists study them?
I the previous post, Jeff Bowman explains how in the petals of the Frost Flower, life can survive in the Arctic ( Science Article and Diigo Notes — sign in) and in the Antarctic (Science Article and Diigo Notes ).
But how do the bacteria live in what is now a much more salty habitat?
Let’s think about how these small, microscopic creatures live by first learning about diffusion and osmosis.
“the process that causes a liquid (especially water) to pass through the wall of a living cell”
“to spread out : to move freely throughout a large area” [from high concentration (lots) to less concentration (little)]
These microscopic creatures must adapt their osmotic process to this new saltier environment, and Jeff and Shelley must create an environment that keeps this “osmotic” balance.
When Jeff and Shelley want to study these frost flowers and the creatures within them, they must allow them to melt in very salty water: “If you take these bacteria from their salty environment and place them in fresh water they will suddenly take in a lot of water and pop!…The bacteria might be living at a salinity of 150 ppt (parts per thousand), about five times the salinity of the ocean. The melted ice might have a salinity of only 10 ppt. So to keep the cells in sea ice from lysing (a fancy word for bursting) we have to melt the ice into water that is very, very salty.”
1. What is one part of the life of these microscopic organisms?
2. What do Jeff and Shelley need to do to study them after collecting them from the sea-ice?
3. Why is this important again?
How does something live in this very cold area?
Jeff Bowman explains how in the petals of the Frost Flower, life can survive in the Arctic ( Science Article and Diigo Notes — sign in) and in the Antarctic (Science Article and Diigo Notes ).
Open the notes, and see how the text connects to this summary:
Seawater turns to ice at -1.8° C
The ice has two parts: fresh ice crystals and salty liquid water
The ice crystals make the structure of the flower.
With more cold, more crystals form with less liquid.
Anything in the ice that isn’t water is forced out into the liquid.
The salt, the organisms, and anything else moves into the liquid.
The organisms must be able to live in this very salty liquid (called brine)– pockets of life in Frost Flowers on sea-ice.
1. Can you draw a series of pictures with labels to show this?
2. What is this important? Take a look at Antarctic Wildlife to infer why.
Next post: How do the organisms survive, and how do the scientists study them?
Antarctic News 2
Look at the frost flower sample taken by the Jeff Bowman team in Antarctica here. One possible life form is the bacteria, polarbacter. What do they look like?
Image source: Gosink, Woese and Staley. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 1998 48:223-235.
How about algae?
And sea-ice diatoms?
Answer: And why are these creatures, some of whom are phytoplankton, important?
Phytoplankton Info NOAA
We are fortunate to have the inside scoop on a Jeff Bowman’s research expedition to Antarctica.
What does Antarctica look like? What lives there? Look at these from National Geographic:
Doesn’t this look like a desert ice fern?
Frost flowers? Take a look at these frost flowers from the Arctic and now look at the frost flower sample taken by the Jeff Bowman team in Antarctica here. In 2009, Jeff collected samples from the Arctic (image).
Is there life in these “petals?” What do you think?