Hot Springs

Jan 31, 2014

Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Brocken Inaglory

"Fieldnotes," February 2nd & 3rd, 2014: "Hot Springs," by Zach Voyles & Caroline Kurtz.

"Bacterium Thermus aquaticus thrives at a slightly warmer temperature, ironically, than is comfortable for people: 158 degrees F. But because it can survive at such high temperatures, enzymes from this thermophile have been studied extensively. A now-common technique for replicating and amplifying sequences of DNA known as Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, was perfected when a certain enzyme was isolated from Thermus aquaticus in the 1980s. This enzyme allowed scientists to perform PCR much faster and more efficiently than before. Kary Mullis, the scientist who first discovered this, was awarded the Nobel Prize, and the enzyme itself was named "Molecule of the Year" by Science magazine in 1989."