Living on Fools Gold

Leslie Mullen, Astrobiology Magazine

This magazine article explores the extreme environment of the Rio Tinto, a river in Spain with highly acidic and metal-rich water. The article features the work of Ricardo Amils, a scientist studying the microbial population of the Rio Tinto. Along with others, Amils pays particular attention to chemolithotrophic bacteria that survive by getting their energy by oxidizing pyrite, also known as "fool's gold". He postulates about how these processes might have played out in the ancient earth and draws parallels to the possibility of life on Mars. The resource includes images from the Rio Tinto, links to related web sites, and a MP3 Audio Machine text-to-speech option.

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Subject: Biology:Ecology:Metabolism, Biology:Microbiology, Geoscience:Hydrology
Resource Type: Scientific Resources:Overview/Reference Work
Grade Level: Graduate/Professional, College Lower (13-14), College Upper (15-16), High School (9-12)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Hydrology/Hydrogeology, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Water
Extreme Environments: Acidic
Topics: Biosphere:Ecology:Habitats:Freshwater, Hydrosphere/Cryosphere, Biosphere:Ecology:Metabolism, Biosphere:MicrobiologyKeywords: Leptosprillum ferrooxidans, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, ferrous iron, ferric iron, eukaryotic extremophiles