WSU Astrobiology Seminar Series 2006/7 Academic Year

Lisa Gloss
Friday, February 23, 2:10-3:00 p.m, Webster 17

Lisa Gloss

Washington State University School of Molecular Biosciences

Molecular Adaptations for Extreme Living


Astrobiology draws from diverse scientific disciplines to answer fundamental questions about life in the universe: what environments will sustain life; how did life originate and evolve on Earth; and how might the origin and evolution of life be different in other potentially hospitable corners of the universe? In part, these questions can be answered by studying life forms which have evolved to survive, and even thrive, in extreme environments. This talk will focus on the biochemical adaptations which allow Earth's hardiest life forms, the archae, to occupy niches too inhospitable for most terrestrial organisms, including high temperatures, pH extremes and high salinity. The metabolism and macromolecular structures of single-celled archae and mesophiles (such as E. coli) will be compared to understand how life can evolve and adapt to extreme environments found on Earth as well as other rocky, water-rich planets.