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Fire and Ice: Life in Extreme Environments

20th Aug 2019 5:45pm

'Fire and Ice : Life in Extreme Environments' – by Professor Ian McDonald.

Extreme environments, such as those found in Antarctica and geothermal environments around the world, were previously thought to be devoid of life. However, they are in fact home to a huge diversity of microbial life including bacteria and archaea, that have evolved to life at these extremes.

For Professor Ian McDonald, the attraction of studying micro-organisms in extreme environments is that they are the most closely related organisms to those at the beginning of life on Earth. Also, these extreme environments don’t support plants or animals, making it much easier to study the ecology of microbial life in these locations.

Professor Ian McDonald will explain how extreme environments like Antarctica really are, where microbial life may only receive 3-4 months of sunlight per year, and how areas like the Dry Valleys (close to New Zealand’s Scott Base) are drier than hot deserts, with no rain and snow that doesn’t melt but sublimates, disappearing into the air.

Focusing on soil environments in Antarctica, Ian will discuss his work on Mt Erebus which is an active volcano, and allows study of both very hot and cold environments, dominated by microbes. He will finish by talking about a study of 1,000 hot pools in the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand.

Members of the public are invited to attend this free public lecture being held at the University of Waikato on Tuesday, 20 August, entitled 'Fire and Ice: Life in Extreme Environments'.

This 30-minute public lecture will be held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, starting at 5.45pm. Complimentary drinks and nibbles served from 5.15pm. Free parking is available on campus via Gate 2B, Knighton Road, Hamilton.

Please register your attendance here and bring your eticket with you on the evening.