Past Projects

Selected Projects

  • Life in the Deep-Freeze

    Life as we know it requires liquid water. However Dr. Junge and her collaborators found evidence of ice bacterial protein synthesis to liquid nitrogen temperature (–196°C) when bacterial polymers were present and samples were (likely) vitrified during her postdoc (with Jody Deming and Hajo Eicken) and continuing on with Brian Swanson (New Scientist article).Currently, she is exploring the relationship between this deep-freeze bacterial activity, proteomics, polymers and the physical state of the ice in collaboration with Brook Nunn from the Goodlet laboratory here at the University of Washington and Hajo Eicken at UAF. This collaboration puts them in a unique…

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  • Polar Cloud Bacteria

    In this research project her team is examining the role that bacteria could play in polar atmospheric cloud formation and precipitation processes (on the general topic of bacteria in the atmosphere see: Biological Ice Nucleators.As Co-PI with Brian Swanson from the Laucks Foundation she is investigating whether polar bacteria can interact with ice surfaces via ice nucleation processes. It is known that heterotrophic bacteria play a key role in carbon cycling in polar regions, but little is known about how they interact with their geological material, the ice itself, be it sea-ice, lake ice, glacier ice or ice in the…

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  • Wintertime Sea Ice Bacteria

    By developing new microscopy and imaging techniques that allowed for the investigation of sea-ice bacteria within ice without melting it, Karen Junge demonstrated in her PhD research (in collaboration with Jody Deming and Hajo Eicken) that surface associations to ice walls or particles within sea ice are essential for maintenance of activity to –20°C and that psychrophilic bacteria can still be motile to temperatures as low as –10°C moving at similar speeds as Escherichia coli at 37°C.Funding source: NSF, NAI (NASA Astrobiology Institute) through the University of Washington Astrobiology Program.Junge et al., 2001Junge et al., 2002Junge et al., 2003Junge et…

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  • Greenland Meltwater Geomicrobiology

    This project characterizes the Greenland Ice Sheet’s subglacial microbial communities to investigate the effect of microbes on lithospheric weathering and nutrient fluxes from the GrIS margin in West Greenland.

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  • Metabolic Activities and Gene Expression of Marine Psychrophiles in Cold Ice

    This project will explore the relationship between deep-freeze bacterial activity, proteomics, polymers and the physical state of the ice and will provide important keys to questions regarding life under extreme conditions, be it in the various ice formations here on Earth, the atmosphere or elsewhere in the universe.

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  • Life elsewhere in the Universe: Astrobiology

    PI: Karen Junge
    Ice is ubiquitous in the Universe. If we better understand how microbial life adapts to Earth ice matrices, we will be in a better position to evaluate and plan tests of the habitability of frozen systems elsewhere in the Universe.

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