What has allowed microbes to thrive in such extreme environments as ice sheets in Antarctica and thermal vents in the deep ocean or on the surfaces we touch, in the air we breathe, and even inside us? Join Nkrumah Grant, a microbial and evolutionary biologist, to better understand the living design principles that allow organisms to survive in environments as “simple” as a pond of water or as extreme as hot acidic pools. Understanding the underlying genetics that allow microbes to live on Earth arms scientists with the ability to establish the places off our planet where microbial life forms may exist. New genetic tools, like CRISPR, makes it possible to cut and paste desired features from several microbes to design and evolve one capable of living beyond Earth.
Nkrumah Grant studies cholera at Michigan State in order to better understand how and why this deadly disease infects more than 1.3 million people each year in an effort to save lives. His work also has deep implications for understanding how organisms evolve over time (or all at once), which could potentially unlock the genetic solutions extend life beyond the confines of Earth.