Experimental Approach:

Created by George Rice, Montana State University

Site Identification:

George Rice checking a thermal pool for temp and pH

  • Identify thermal features with favorable conditions for host organisms.
  • Sample identified sites with established sterile aerobic/anaerobic procedures.
  • Culture host organisms using an artificial thermal environment in the lab - learn about culturing.
  • Visually identify virus-like particles using a Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM).
  • Purify thermal viruses from positive cultures.
  • Characterize newly isolated viruses.

Sample Collection:

Wolfram Zillig (Godfather of Archaeal Thermophilic Viruses) from the Max-Plank Institute is pictured on the left taking an anaerobic sample from beneath a thermal pool with the assistance of a local Yellowstone Ranger. Samples collected in this manner are taken from environments where there is no oxygen and kept oxygen free throughout the sampling process.

Ken Stedman of Portland State University is shown on the right collecting samples from near the surface of a thermal pool in the Rabbit Creek area near Old Faithful. This is a low oxygen environment so no steps are taken to keep the samples oxygen free. Small amounts of sediment and liquid are collected from the pools by filling a sterile collection tube for transport to the lab.

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