home .Featured, Water Systems Do you have a hot spring in your basement? In a way, you might … 

Do you have a hot spring in your basement? In a way, you might … 

This is really cool.  Or, actually, really hot.  A new paper is out from Regina L. Wilpiszeski, Zhidan Zhang, and Christopher H. House at Penn State on their cool (oops again, hot) Citizen Microbiology project on microbes in water heaters.

Some key tidbits of potential interest:

From the PR:

Extremophiles like those found in hot springs and thermal vents are also common in residential water heaters, according to a nationwide study that sheds new light on the extent of extremophile colonization in homes and provides insight about how the heat-loving microbes spread.

Citizen scientists submitted filters and water samples from their homes as part of a collaboration between the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the NASA National Space Grant Fellowship and Scholarship Program.

Researchers analyzed DNA sequences found on the collected filters and grew cultures from the water samples. Together, these different data sets provided a novel view of the thermophilic microbes inhabiting water heaters across the nation. Analyses of the data included comparing genetic differences between samples to the physical distance between their water heater locations.

From the paper:

Map of sampled sites:

Phylogeography of Thermus species


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