Scholar of the Week
Karen Lloyd, assistant professor of microbiology, was the lead author on a paper published in the prestigious journal Nature on April 11, 2013. The paper revealed that Archaea, single-celled, microscopic life-forms, digest protein as a major food source. For this study, Lloyd and her colleagues collected ocean mud from Aarhus Bay, Denmark, pulled a single individual microscopic cell, sequenced most of its genome, and determined the presence of extracellular protein-degrading enzymes predicted in that genome. The finding has implications for understanding what is the bare minimum needed to support life. How these microbes are able to survive in extreme conditions has puzzled researchers for years. Even though they are everywhere on our planet, scientists have never known how they survive in harsh environments with scarce food sources.