Antarctica 4

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)]

Video Explanation

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?