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Montana State team finds rare oasis of life on floor of Yellowstone Lake
Date:10/4/2010

y being conducted by MSU at least doubles the list of organisms known to live there, Varley said. He added that understanding how the colony lives in such extreme conditions may lead to the development of new products and inventions.

One example of a Yellowstone organism leading to an industrial product is Thermus aquaticus, a heat-resistant micro-organism discovered in a Yellowstone hot spring in the 1960s. Subsequent research on Thermus aquaticus led to today's modern DNA testing -- a multi-billion dollar industry.

The project at the bottom of Yellowstone Lake has already benefited public school teachers and National Park Service employees who helped conduct field work that contributed to the study, Varley said. Not only did they learn field techniques, but they will share their experiences and scientific findings with students and park visitors.

Varley, who used to work for the National Park Service and ended his NSP career as director of the Yellowstone Center for Resources, said he started inventorying the park's biodiversity in 2003. Now a senior scientist at the Big Sky Institute, Varley said the study that led to the current discoveries began in 2004 as a pilot project. Field work continued in 2008 and 2009, with each field season lasting about 10 days during the fall. The ROV was used during the pilot season and both field seasons.

"What we do is impossible without the ROV," Varley said. "There is no other feasible way to do the work."


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Contact: Evelyn Boswell
evelynb@montana.edu
406-994-5135
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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