How Do They Do That?

As you read the pages of this Web site, you might have come across things that made you pause and say, "now how do they do that?" Well, here's where you can find out at least some of the answers. Click on the links below to find out how microbes manage to do some of the amazing things they do.

Repair DNA

Developing tricks and tools to keep their enzymes in order is one way thermophiles survive. They also use techniques to keep their DNA from falling apart under intense heat. Like proteins, the parts of the long, spiral ladder-shaped DNA molecule start to unravel and break apart under high heat. One way thermophiles keep that from happening is with a helper enzyme called "reverse DNA gyrase" <jeye-race>.

Read more: Repair DNA

Microbial Spore Formation

endosporeYou may have read elsewhere in this site that bacteria sometimes form protective spores to help them survive through tough times. Some other kinds of microbes do, too. Here's how that transformation takes place.

Read more: Microbial Spore Formation

How "Conan the Bacterium "Survives Lethal Radiation Blasts

When you go to the dentist to have your jaws X-rayed, you’ll notice that you have to wear a heavy lead apron—and the person who takes the X-ray leaves the room to do it. X-rays are safe, but these precautions give you some sense of how careful we have to be around even relatively harmless levels of radiation. The problem is that unsafe levels of radiation can mess with the cells and molecules in our body, warping them and even breaking them apart. It does the same thing to microbial cells.

Read more: How "Conan the Bacterium "Survives Lethal Radiation Blasts

Beat that Cold

psychrophile2In recent years, scientists have turned up microbes living in the frigid waters of Antarctic lakes that are permanently covered with snow and a thick layer of ice. Scientists have found microbes thriving in the wind-blasted rocks and soil atop high mountain summits and in polar snow.

Read more: Beat that Cold

Hot! Hot! Hot! But How?

Ever been outside on a day so hot, you said to your friends, "I feel like I’m melting"? Well, of course you were exaggerating. But there are microbes called thermophiles <ther-mo-files>, or heat-lovers, that live in temperatures so hot, the microbes could actually melt if they hadn’t developed tricks and tools to handle such extreme heat.

Read more: Hot! Hot! Hot! But How?

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