Bugs In Space?

We are interdisciplinary laboratory in the Department of Physics, part of the Environmental Extremes Cluster. We do optical instrument development, software, nanomaterials, and basic microbiology with the goal of finding microorganisms in extreme environments on Earth and beyond. We have collaborators at Caltech, Ames, JPL, and Stone Aerospace, and are funded by NASA, JPL, the NSF, and private industry. We got our start with holographic microscopy under a grant from the Moore Foundation.

Home of the Motility Database

An open archive of videos of microbial motility in three dimensions For scientists, educators, and the public.

What role does microbial motility play in aquatic environments: oceans, lakes, and inside the pores of sea ice?

When microbes lose the ability to swim, what will make them swim again--temperature, amino acids, sugars? How long does it take to go from motile to non-motile?

Is microbial motility substantially different in extremely cold and nutrient poor environments (such as the Arctic) than in more temperate environments (such as off Scripps pier?

Can we build a microscope to look for microbial motility on an icy moon of Jupiter or Saturn? How can motility be a biosignature that complements biochemical biosignatures of life on other planets?

Contact Information

Department of Physics          
Portland State University        
Portland, OR 97201          
Telephone: (503) 795-8929
Email: nadeau@pdx.edu

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