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Colorful Microbes

Colorful Microbes

How do shrimp make a living at hydrothermal vents? They have help from a variety of microbes. This image shows two kinds of bacteria attached to a hair-like structure called a seta on the mouth appendages of the  shrimp Rimicaris exoculata. The ring-shaped seta (seen here in cross-section) appears blue. Short, thin Gammaproteobacteria appear red, and the longer, stouter Epsilonproteobacteria appear green. WHOI microbial ecologist Stefan Sievert and colleagues used FISH, or Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization, to localize and identify the microbes. In FISH, short stretches of nucleic acids tagged with different fluorescent labels bind to the DNA of specific microbes. The researchers recently elucidated how these bacteria convert energy from chemicals in the hydrothermal fluid into biomass that the shrimp can use as an energy source. (Image by Jillian Petersen, Symbiosis Group, Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany)

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