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Proceedings Paper

Morphology and elemental composition of recent and fossil cyanobacteria
Author(s): Ann St. Amand; Richard B. Hoover; Gregory A. Jerman; James Coston; Alexei Yu. Rozanov
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Paper Abstract

Cyanobacteria (cyanophyta, cyanoprokaryota, and blue-green algae) are an ancient, diverse and abundant group of photosynthetic oxygenic microorganisms. Together with other bacteria and archaea, the cyanobacteria have been the dominant life forms on Earth for over 3.5 billion years. Cyanobacteria occur in some of our planets most extreme environments - hot springs and geysers, hypersaline and alkaline lakes, hot and cold deserts, and the polar ice caps. They occur in a wide variety of morphologies. Unlike archaea and other bacteria, which are typically classified in pure culture by their physiological, biochemical and phylogenetic properties, the cyanobacteria have historically been classified based upon their size and morphological characteristics. These include the presence or absence of heterocysts, sheath, uniseriate or multiseriate trichomes, true or false branching, arrangement of thylakoids, reproduction by akinetes, binary fission, hormogonia, fragmentation, presence/absence of motility etc. Their antiquity, distribution, structural and chemical differentiation, diversity, morphological complexity and large size compared to most other bacteria, makes the cyanobacteria ideal candidates for morphological biomarkers in returned Astromaterials. We have obtained optical (nomarski and phase contrast)/fluorescent (blue and green excitation) microscopy images using an Olympus BX60 compound microscope and Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy images and EDAX elemental compositions of living and fossil cyanobacteria. The S-4000 Hitachi Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FESEM) has been used to investigate microfossils in freshly fractured interior surfaces of terrestrial rocks and the cells, hormogonia, sheaths and trichomes of recent filamentous cyanobacteria. We present Fluorescent and FESEM Secondary and Backscattered Electron images and associated EDAX elemental analyses of recent and fossil cyanobacteria, concentrating on representatives of the genera Calothrix, Leptolyngbya, Lyngbya, Planktolyngbya and Oscillatoria.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 September 2005
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 5906, Astrobiology and Planetary Missions, 590603 (22 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.624854
Show Author Affiliations
Ann St. Amand, PhycoTech, Inc. (United States)
Richard B. Hoover, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Gregory A. Jerman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
James Coston, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Paleontological Institute (Russia)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5906:
Astrobiology and Planetary Missions
Richard B. Hoover; G. Randall Gladstone; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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