worm in spanish here.
Karen Lloyd: If you look at it from one side, we are the two worst people to work together, our disciplines are the two worst. But, I think anytime you find people in two different disciplines who don’t normally talk to each other, and then they find a way to talk to each other and they find a way to bridge that gap, then that’s where the great discoveries are.
I am a microbiologist who studies deep sea mud. Nothing excites me more than mud.
Peter Barry: And, I’m an isotope geochemist, I study volcanoes. Usually we study totally different things, but we came together for this special research to study microbes.
Lloyd: Microbes. But not the microbes you’re probably thinking of.
Barry: Yeah. Not like the microbes that live inside a human’s gut, but rather the microbes that live around volcanoes and thrive on the heat of those volcanic systems.
Crew member : Mic the microbe interview, take one, note, soft sticks.
Microphone : So where do I start?
Director: I don’t know. And the start?
Microphone : The beginning? I’m gonna need another scotch, definitely. Do you have any idea of my age? We have to go back, very far, before humanity existed.
Lloyd: Microbes are organisms of microscopic size, so they can exist in a single-celled form or as a colony of cells.
Barry: They are incredibly diverse.
Lloyd: Yeah, and they can do all kinds of wild crap… Like Anammox cleans nitrogen pollution from farms and makes a key ingredient in rocket fuel. Pyrodictium can live in boiling water and Thermus aquaticus helped unlock modern medicine. Whatever we do with DNA, we wouldn’t be able to do without the enzymes extracted from that organism. There are microbes everywhere in the earth’s crust. It’s a whole ecosystem that contains a lot of different things, which are as different from each other as giraffes are from a mushroom. But the fact is that we know incredibly little about microbial life.
Barry: Exactly. Until recently, people didn’t even really understand that it was possible for life to exist there.
Lloyd: There is no oxygen, there is no sun, it is very hot. It doesn’t seem like a place where you would really find a team life, but you do.
Barry: Wait a second. I have to take this. Good morning.
Microphone : Hi. This is Dr. Bacteria at Jones Lab, Vanderbilt. What is it called when two carbons are related?
Barry: I’m not exactly….
Microphone : Carbon dating. Find? You call it carbon dating.
Barry: Oh, my god, Mickey. Amazing. Our team has been very busy over the past two years. We have sampled microbes in volcanic areas all over the earth. For example, our buddy, Mic, he’s about a mile below the Mariana Trench.
Microphone : People hear that I live under the earth’s crust, and they say to me, “So, are you from hell?” But you know what? I’m just an ordinary guy. Mic the microbe, Mickey. I happen to live inside the earth, and we have a different way of doing things there.
Lloyd: Here on the surface, plants use light to consume carbon dioxide to feed themselves and others.
Barry: But, in the basement, of course, there is no sunlight.
Lloyd: So this ecosystem has to figure out how to make food for everyone without any light, and they’re doing it using chemistry instead. So any chemical reaction that produces energy can be used to consume carbon dioxide and feed everyone, and the type of organism that can do that…
Barry: This is called a chemolithoautotroph.
Lloyd: They are microbes that use chemicals, chemo, rocks, litho to make food, autotroph.
Director: So if these microbes are consuming carbon dioxide, can they help us get rid of it here?
Microphone : Shit yeah. I will eat your carbon, give it to me. I’ll gobble up your climate crisis right now. Name, name, name, name, name.
Barry: Yes, we are not going to say that this research indicates a solution to climate change, because that is not what we are studying.
Lloyd: But, it’s revolutionary stuff.
Barry: Literally. Innovative.
Director: If you could say one thing to everyone in the world, what would it be?
Microphone : Oh. Please make checks payable to Mic le micro-
Director: No come. I mean, what should people know about you and germs?
Microphone : You humans have been talking about walking on the moon for 60 years. The next frontier isn’t in space, it’s under your feet.