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Synchrotron Infrared Unveils a Mysterious Microbial Community Print
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 00:00

A cold sulfur spring in Germany is the only place where archaea are known to dominate bacteria in a microbial community. How this unique community thrives and the lessons it may hold for understanding global carbon and sulfur cycles are beginning to emerge from research by the University of Regensburg’s Christine Moissl-Eichinger and her colleagues, including Advanced Light Source guest Alex Probst. Crucial microbial biochemistry was done at Berkeley Lab by Hoi-Ying Holman, director of the Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared Structural Biology facility, and her staff at the ALS, and by Phylochip inventors Todd DeSantis and Gary Anderson.

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Strings of pearls (arrow and upper inset), whose "pearls" are up to three millimeters in diameter, were found where SM1 Euryarchaea live in close association with bacteria in the cold sulfidic streams of Germany’s Sippenauer Moor. Part of a pearl (lower inset) reveals colonies of microscopic spherical SM1 surrounded by filamentous bacteria.