Archaea: The Hidden Domain of Life
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Archaea: The Hidden Domain of Life


You know what plants and animals are, and
you’ve probably heard of bacteria, fungi, and even protists. But have you ever heard of archaea? Just like plants and animals, archaea are
a category of organisms. If you haven’t heard of them, don’t worry–
you’re not alone. Archaea as we understand them today weren’t
categorized until the 1990s and have been slowly making their way into textbooks since. That means they may not have been in your
biology textbook at all. And even if they were, you might not have
learned about them in much depth. But archaea should not be written off as the
forgotten organisms. They are, after all, some of the most extreme
forms of life on earth, continually being discovered in places we didn’t know it was
possible for life to exist. They’re also the oldest forms of life on
earth. So old, in fact, that archaea are believed
to have been present during the extreme conditions of early earth. Despite being so old, archaea were discovered
by scientists only a few decades ago. Their discovery sparked a paradigm shift within
science that made us reconsider the tree of life and the way we categorize organisms. You may be wondering: “Why did it take us
so long to discover archaea?” Join us as we uncover… Archaea: The Hidden Domain of Life Hang on, “hidden domain”? What’s a domain? Are we talking about the Deep Web? No– we’re talking about taxonomy! Specifically, this is the science of putting
organisms into named groups like plants and animals. But on a grander scale, taxonomy is what helps
us make sense of the tree of life. It’s an attempt to trace evolutionary history
from the Last Universal Common Ancestor to every species of life that has existed on
earth since. Which organisms are related to which other
organisms, and how? Which organisms are we related to? In taxonomy, the domain is the highest rank
of classification– every organism that we know of is a member of one of three domains. But this wasn’t always the case. Until the 1990s, the kingdom held the title
of highest rank. Since the concept of domains took a while
to make it into textbooks, this is what you may have learned in school. Wait, what? Why was a higher rank of classification necessary? Wasn’t every form of life already accounted
for by the kingdoms? Yes and no. While every form of life had been placed into
a Kingdom, they had not all been classified correctly. Before the Domains were introduced, scientists
believed that all life could be traced to one of two distinct evolutionary lineages:
the prokaryotes (bacteria) and the eukaryotes (everything else). But it turned out that some of the microbes
that we had classified as bacteria were actually from a completely different lineage. While they were still prokaryotes, they were
not at all bacteria. Their existence revealed that there were in
fact three evolutionary lineages, not two. These became the three domains: eukarya, bacteria,
and archaea. The domains highlight the enormous evolutionary
differences among organisms, a distinction that was lacking with the kingdoms. Okay, I guess that makes sense. But how did we discover that archaea were
from a different lineage? And who made the decision to introduce domains? Enter a biologist named Carl Woese. Back in the 1960s, Woese began an enormous
undertaking. He wanted to create a tree of life based on
data rather than relying on morphology. He used a technique called DNA sequencing
to categorize hundreds upon hundreds of organisms and describe their relationships to one another. This was a painstaking, time-consuming process,
and he spent ten years working in his lab before he came forward with his research in 1977. It was this research that revealed to Woese
that archaea came from their own distinct lineage. He had, completely incidentally, discovered
a third form of life. His process for categorizing organisms was
also a scientific breakthrough, and his method remains a cornerstone of biology to this day. In 1990, he proposed the three-domain system
as we know it. It sounds like Carl Woese made some really
important scientific breakthroughs. I bet everyone thought he was a genius when
he proposed the three domains! Well, not exactly. When Woese first announced his discovery,
no one took him seriously, and he was largely ignored for years. His idea had sparked a scientific revolution,
just as Isaac Newton did with his Laws of Physics and Copernicus did with his idea of
heliocentrism. He was about to cause a major paradigm shift
within Science, but nobody was quite ready to believe him yet. Many biologists had to face the reality that
their favorite groups of organisms were mere twigs on the tree of life, and the implications
this held for the magnitude of their own research. Because of this, Woese was even met with some
vicious backlash. It wasn’t until the 1990s that his idea
finally started to gain traction within the scientific community. Wow, that’s not what I expected! I think I understand why Woese’s work was
so important now… But archaea still seem pretty boring to me. Didn’t you mention something about them
being “extreme”? Tell me more about that! Fear not! Our friends the archaea are way cooler than
you might expect. A large number of archaea are extremophiles,
which are microbes that live in extreme environments where most other forms of life cannot exist. This includes places like glaciers, acid mine
drainage, and deep sea hydrothermal vents. For almost any extreme environment you can
think of, there are extremophiles that live there. A few of the coolest kinds are: thermophiles which live in extremely hot environments, psychrophiles which live in extremely cold
environments, and radioresistant microbes, which live in
radioactive environments. There are also halophiles, barophiles, acidophiles,
alkaliphiles, xerophiles, and endoliths. And these categories aren’t exclusive! Many extremophiles live in environments that
are extreme in more than one way. For example, deep sea hydrothermal vents are
home to thermo-acido-barophiles. Wow! My mind is exploding! Fasten your seatbelts, it’s about to get
cooler– archaea are responsible for some pretty awesome natural phenomena. Thermophilic archaea are behind the vibrant
colors of the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring at Yellowstone National Park. This hot spring is hottest in the center,
and cools as the water spreads out and thins towards the edges. This creates a temperature gradient within
the spring. Different species of thermophilic archaea
thrive at different temperatures, and cluster in bands. This creates a rainbow of archaea within the
spring. Similarly, halophiles are responsible for
the colors of the San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds. These ponds are shallow bodies of saltwater
that are used to harvest salt. As the water evaporates, the salinity of the water increases. Different species of halophilic archaea thrive
at different salinities. The species best suited to the environment
at any given time will take over the pond and determine its color, providing a spectacular
visual measurement of the pond’s salinity. And these are just two phenomena that we know
archaea are responsible for– who knows what else is out there waiting to be discovered! Whoa! I learned so much about archaea today. And to think, I didn’t even know what they
were seven minutes ago! I’m gonna go tell all my friends how awesome
they are. Thanks!

34 Comments

  • Hasindu Lanka

    Great video. But looks like most of the people doesn't know about 3rd sort of life. Thanx very much for this video

  • Marghie Cañas

    whoa!! thank you for the vid, funny and interesting at the same time!! :DD now I understand better, thaaanks!!

  • Bücherregal Domi

    come on ma homegirl Haley, don't do us like that, make more videos please!!! if your channel becomes active I instantly subscribe (as there is a cap to the total amount of channels that one can be subscribed to, I only subscribe to active channels)

  • Gill De Deken

    Thanks for the video, as a biology teacher it is still hard to make my students comprehend the domain of Archaea. This video explains it just right and made me giggle along the line a few times. Certain to share this with my fellow science teachers. Thanks from Belgium.

  • Wen Hong

    thats an awesome illustraion video and i like the hidden humorous tone. btw, are there two ppl speaking in the video? or just one speaker talking in two voices?

  • Teexamanbinnojol

    And we have Archaea to thank for a Polymerase Chain Reaction Enzyme that can survive 40*C. In non-molecular biology terms, that's what scientists use to turn tiny samples into readable bits of data.

  • buzz magister

    I'd never heard of archaea till a few minutes ago and here's a You Tuber doing a great video , proof you're never too old to learn . Thanks for keeping an old fools brain ticking over ! :-)I think you must have a lot more information about the subject it would be so nice to see more such videos from your channel .

  • Saurabh Mangal

    Can there be three way splits at all…? 1:28 clearly shows Archea and Eucarya being on 'one side' and Bacteria on the other….so the old classification of its bacteria or 'non-bacteria' wasn't entirely incorrect.

  • guy mcgowen

    Hello Haley;  thank you for the lovely work done on this video. Their nick names are "Gods engineers".  You were correct. They actually were here when the earth was still in its violent volcanic days. The estimates of their occupancy on earth are near 4.5 billion years.  You have most of the technical data correct.  A few items you must have gleaned from the internet in making this video. Allow me "Mr. Archaea" to fill in the blanks.  The person who discovered them and spent 60 years of his life researching all aspects of them was Dr. Carl H. Oppenheimer. He was known as the worlds leading microbiologist, "Father of modern Microbiology, and developer of a new technology called BIOREMEDIATION. He had joined the US navy in 1939. He had no plans for college. The Navy made him a blood testing technician. They sent him to school, he liked it and after the Navy continued to learn. While being stationed at Boston Harbor he noticed the level of oil waste from the ships never increased. Ships had been coming there for 500 years. He wrote a paper on his thoughts. "There must be something in nature that constantly recycles everything. He could not see them. But it was clear there was something there. He went on to get one of his 10 (PhD's) in microbiology. Wrote his thesis on this BUG. Since he discovered it and named it Archaea. Latin for Ancient ones. He went on to decipher the properties and characteristics.  In the early 50,s he noticed they had no DNA at all. Later this was confirmed by the invention of the scanning electron microscope. He found there were 4 distinct categories of these extremeophoids. Heat tolerant, cold tolerant, salt tolerant, and methane producers. He (with slave labor called graduate students), began a massive research project to find out which species in what amounts and what combination would biodegrade organic compounds. The main item discovered in this was All organic compounds were bio reduced into their elemental state and all toxic metals were chelated also into their non toxic state /nutritional form. He became world famous for cleaning up oil spills. In the early 1960's his fame got him a job at The University of Texas at Austin. He was the a professor there until 1990. Retired to go into sales of the Archaea Products. I met him in 1994 in Austin. I was a nurse and had a private care home. I had a few UT professors family members so he accepted their referral and his mother 91 came to live at our home. Many conversations with Marie. I learned that J. Robert Oppenheimer was her brother in law. Carl's uncle. Her maiden name was Marie Hess. Her father was General Hess in WWII. Also in her younger days being a billionaires daughter she had respectable boyfriends. One we knew became famous, Albert Einstein. A close family friend  until his death in 1955. Your explanation of Dr. Wolsey working on the Archaea to determine if it should have a separate domain was accurate. The only item that was misquoted  and repeated millions of times because of the internet error was He discovered the Archaea in 1977.  Hard to do when Dr O did in 40's researched everything in the 50's worked with the UN in charge of global disasters, which gained him fame and a job at UT for 25 years teaching Archaea studies and summer ocean trips for students to get their doctorates. I read the internet reports and found 90% of the information incorrect. So I looked up Dr Wolsey's phone number and called him. We talked a bit and I proceeded to ask him some very basic questions on the Archaea. Highest temps, Ph, level, exponential growth rate, the 4 categories, No DNA and a host of others. He seemed like a very quiet and nice man. But he did not get a single answer correct. Your excellent video pointed out why. He was given the task to determine if this micro organism deserved to be given a separate domain. He determined it did. There are so many primadona scientist out there. All battling for grants and fame. Dr Oppenheimer was OLD SCHOOL. do science for science sake. You are very eloquent in videos. So I will pass on a few of Dr O's Archaea facts from over 700 of his white papers written on the subject. Temps: 28 F to 437 F, The Ph range is 5.5 to 10.0, moisture is1 to 10% hibernating , activated at 10%, Can be used to 50% moisture effectively, It is classified as Microaerophilic. aerobic down to 1 ppm of Oxygen. Never anaerobic, It is the only non pathogenic organism on earth. Because it is an RNA only life form. It does have Transmutational properties. Exponential growth rate is once every 20 minutes. These are all easily understood. The one item that confuses everyone is the Archaea do not metabolize organic compounds. They only metabolize the electrons in the decaying covalent bonds of organic compounds. There are no DNA microbes that have this genetic code. To be healthy all food stuff MUST be broken down into elements. These elements go to your immune system first. Your immune system directs the nutrients to the organ that needs it the most. In order to understand this bioprocessing you need a really good background in Quantum mechanics. I hope you read this. I got your email from your subscription info box. Will contact you in a few.  A pleasure. Guy McGowen,  (Mr. Archaea.)

  • guy mcgowen

    Hi Haley;  I am glad you had a chance to read the info.  I know you are busy. So you mat call me anytime.  my skype: guy_mcgowen ph 512 567 9700.  You seem to have a number of fans. How would you like to do a complete series on Archaea. Sort of a youtube science class.  People need to learn about this so they can live healthy and clean up anything they want without any government interference.  Please add me to your list to view future videos.  Thank you.

  • Fajar Syamsudin

    your video is good, very help me for my study about biology and biomolecular, but you must more interesting next video. maybe you can make video with animation 😀 thank you haley 😉

  • stillstyle

    Amazing, great video! The salt ponds always fascinated me around San Fran, I had no idea what caused them, I guess I figured they were different liquids like oil or some sort of drainage, I never would have guessed the different colors were just the type of Archaea that were thriving depending on the salinity changes, that is awesome to think about! Thank you!

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