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Archaea



These Archaea species live in extreme heat near deep sea vents.
Click on image for full size (22K jpeg)
Image courtesy of NOAA
Archaea was originally thought to be just another form of bacteria, but archaea is a much simpler form of life, simpler than a single-celled organism, which nevertheless contains DNA, the gene-code of life. If it weren't found at the bottom of the sea or buried inside of rocks, Archaea might resemble blue-green algae.

Archaea may be the oldest and oddest form of life. Most live in extreme environments. These are called extremophyles. Other Archaea species are not extremophiles and live in ordinary temperatures and salinities. Some even live in your guts!

Some extremophile species love the heat! They like to live in boiling water, like the geysers of Yellowstone Park, and inside volcanoes. They like the heat so much that it has earned the nickname "thermophile", which means "loving heat", and it would probably freeze to death at ordinary room temperature. Other extremophile Archaea love to live in very salty, called hypersaline, environments. They are able to survive in these extreme places where other organisms cannot. These salt-loving Archaea are called halophyles.

For energy, Archaea does not require sunlight as do plants on Earth, neither does it require oxygen as do animals. Archaea absorbs CO2, N2, or H2S for food, chemically transforms them, and gives off methane gas or sulfur as a waste product. An example for one of the relationships is given below. Notice that free oxygen is not involved. This is among secondary pathways for photosynthesis employed by these early bacteria.


Excess sulfur, as produced in this relationship was found in Earth's early atmosphere and ocean.

Planets which contain an environment wherein archaea might survive include Venus, the past environment of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Jupiter's moon Io.


Archaea



These Archaea species live in extreme heat near deep sea vents.
Click on image for full size (22K jpeg)
Image courtesy of NOAA

Archaea are microbes. Most live in extreme environments. These are called extremophyles. Other Archaea species are not extremophiles and live in ordinary temperatures and salinities. Some even live in your guts!

Some extremophile species love the heat! They like to live in boiling water, like the geysers of Yellowstone Park, and inside volcanoes. They like the heat so much that it has earned the nickname "thermophile", which means "loving heat", and it would probably freeze to death at ordinary room temperature. Other extremophile Archaea love to live in very salty, called hypersaline, environments. They are able to survive in these extreme places where other organisms cannot. These salt-loving Archaea are called halophyles.

Archaea was originally thought to be just like bacteria, but archaea is a much different and simpler form of life. It may also be the oldest form of life on Earth!

Archaea requires neither sunlight for photosynthesis as do plants, nor oxygen. Archaea absorbs CO2, N2, or H2S and gives off methane gas as a waste product the same way humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

Planets which contain an environment wherein archaea might survive include Venus, the past environment of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Jupiter's moon Io.


Archaea



These Archaea species live in extreme heat near deep sea vents.
Click on image for full size (22K jpeg)
Image courtesy of NOAA

Archaea are microbes. Most live in extreme environments.

Some love the heat! They like to live in boiling water, like the geysers of Yellowstone Park, and inside volcanoes. They would probably freeze to death at ordinary room temperature. Other Archaea love to live in very salty environments. They are able to survive in these extreme places where other organisms cannot. Other Archaea species live in ordinary temperatures and salinities. Some even live in your guts!

Archaea was originally thought to be just like bacteria, but it is a very different and much simpler form of life. Archaea may be the oldest form of life on Earth.

Planets which contain an environment wherein archaea might survive include Venus, the past environment of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Jupiter's moon Io.




Last modified April 29, 2004 by Lisa Gardiner.
The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). 1995-1999, 2000 The Regents of the University of Michigan; 2000-04 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer