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|GOLF 4-3-9 Antarctica Expedition 2008|
The GOLF439 Project of the US Antarctic Program aims at improving our understanding of the "rock bottom" of the food chain with an emphasis on extreme environments. Antarctica provides a very harsh environment sustaining very little life.
Here food webs have to be very "creative" to adjust to conditions that have been compared to life on other planets or life during the early Earth. These special conditions can be used to explore which microbes are the most successful at using nutrients and energy from volcanic rocks
− a substrate that has been implicated as a potential host for a substantial biomass on Earth and possibly provides a substrate for the evolution of early life. |
This five year collaborative project includes the study of prokayotes (e.g. bacteria) and micro-eukaryotes (fungi, yeasts) to get a first-order understanding of the complete food web involved in the utilization of volcanic rocks.
The geomicrobiology experiments will focus on the extreme environments of the McMurdo area around Ross Island, Antarctica. These will include some ancient lava flows and lakes in the Dry Valleys area (Taylor Valley), some lava flows in the Royal Society Range (Walcott Glacier), and a range of
locations on Mount Erebus, an active volcano with a lava lake at its summit.
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EarthRef.org Newsletter : Issue 07 - 2008