Octopus SpringCreated by Sarah Bordenstein, Marine Biological Laboratory
Octopus Spring is an alkaline hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. Its drainage channels radiate like arms of an octopus, hence its name. Water flows from the source at about 95 degrees C to outflow channels where it cools to a low of about 83C. A steady discharge, estimated at 75 to 100 gallons per minute, feeds the extensive and colorful microbial mats. Pink filamentous communities appear in the channels about 2 meters from the crystal blue pool. Continuing down the channels, temperatures decrease and microbial mat communities change, both in color and composition. A diverse array of microbes comprise the hot spring mats of Octopus Spring, including cyanobacteria, green sulfur bacteria, and green non-sulfur bacteria.
Octopus Spring is about 95 degrees C at the source. As the water flows away from the main spring, it cools to about 83 degrees C and supports the growth of a variety of thermophiles, including Aquifex and Thermotoga.
Selected Online Resources
- A Natural View of Microbial Biodiversity within Hot Spring Cyanobacterial Mat Communities . This 18-page review summarizes a decade of research studying hot spring cyanobacterial mats as models for understanding principles of microbial community ecology. (more info)
- Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis Profiles of 16S rRNA-Defined Populations Inhabiting a Hot Spring Microbial Mat Community. This journal abstract reports the population profiles of different temperature regions in the microbial mat community of Octopus Spring, Yellowstone National Park... (more info)
- Diversity, Ecology and Evolution of Microorganisms Inhabiting Hot Spring Microbial Mats . This website is part of the Frontiers in Investigative Biological Research (FIBR) Project 'Do Species Matter in Microbial Communities?' led by Principal Investigator... (more info)
- Geysers: Lower Geyser Basin. This Yellowstone National Park web site is dedicated to Lower Geyser Basin. It includes images and descriptions of Queen's Laundry and Sentinel Meadows, Sentinel Cone... (more info)
- Life at High Temperatures. This website gives an overview of the various forms of life that exist in Yellowstone National Park's thermal features. Seventeen topics can be browsed in order or selected from a menu. Topics include hidden biological resources, microbial mats, types... ( This site may be offline. )
- Life in extreme environments. This Nature insight review article “Life in extreme environments” is a detailed description of bacterial prevalence in extreme environments. It includes diagrams... (more info)
- Light-Induced Motility of Thermophilic Synechococcus Isolates from Octopus Spring, Yellowstone National Park. This journal abstract reports that light-induced motility of different cyanobacterial lineages may be indicative that the trait is possibly widespread among the group... (more info)
- Microbiology in Yellowstone National Park. This site describes how Yellowstone National Park is a focal point for cutting-edge microbiology research and how it provides a valuable setting for outreach education. Topics include questions for park officials, extremophiles... (more info)
- Octopus Spring. This reference site consists of images and descriptions of Octopus Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Part of the teacher workshop "Extremities: Geology and Life in... (more info)
- Phylogenetic Analysis of the Hyperthermophilic Pink Filament Community in Octopus Spring, Yellowstone National Park. This journal article reports the molecular phylogenetic approach used to analyze a microbial community associated with the 84 to 88 degrees C outflow from Octopus Spring... (more info)
- Seasonal Distributions of Dominant 16S rRNA-Defined Populations in a Hot Spring Microbial Mat Examined by Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis. This journal abstract reports the distributions of bacterial populations within a microbial mat of Octopus Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Sites along the... (more info)
- Signature Lipids and Stable Carbon Isotope Analyses of Octopus Spring Hyperthermophilic Communities Compared with Those of Aquificales Representatives . This journal article reports a study, originally intended to examine the microbial composition of Octopus Spring and nearby vent biofilms, comparing the lipid profiles of... (more info)
- Thermocrinis ruber gen. nov., sp. nov., a Pink-Filament-Forming Hyperthermophilic Bacterium Isolated from Yellowstone National Park. This journal abstract describes a novel hyperthermophilic bacterium isolated from pink filamentous streamers occurring in the upper outflow channel of Octopus Spring... (more info)
For additional resources about Octopus Spring, search the Microbial Life collection.