Science content and hands-on experiences with Thermal Biology

Gallatin County School Teachers visited Montana State University for science content and hands-on experiences with Thermal Biology.  The group received background information, toured the Transmission Electron Microscope facilities and conducted a hands-on photosynthesis lab.  Students measured oxygen production of a microscopic organism called Galdieria that lives in the acid waters of Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.  This species thrives at water temperatures between 95oF and 133oF, and at a pH of 2.  These amazing photosynthetic organisms are bright green, and are visible along the boardwalk.  Water temperature at Norris Geyser Basin can be inferred simply by looking at the colors that underlay the hot springs channel water.  Yellow-white coloration indicates sulphur depositing organisms like Sulfulobus and a temperature near 176oF, orange indicates iron depositing organisms like Metallosphaera and a temperature below 167oF.  While, bright green is indicative of Galdieria and temperatures below 133oF, and the dark green/purple coloration is Zygogonium which inhabits water temperatures of less than 95oF.