BE-POLES’ demonstration of cyanobacteria

Dr Annick Wilmotte, specialist in Antarctic cyanobacteria at the Center for Protein Engineering (ULg) presented her work on polar cyanobacteria during the annual "Congrès Pluraliste des Sciences" in Louvain-la-Neuve. This congress is organised for sciences teachers in secondary schools, giving them the opportunity to meet specialists from the field. BE-POLES was there to communicate Belgian polar science to teachers.

Cyanobacteria are bacteria that started photosynthesis, producing oxygen some billions of years ago. They are the ancestors of chloroplasts (organelles that conduct photosynthesis in plants) and live in all kinds of environments, including extreme ones such as the polar regions.
Annick explained to teachers how you can culture and visualize them and how you can separate them from the water they are living in using a method called chromatography.

Both the user manual (containing experimental protocols) and the demonstration were seen as promising tools for teachers during next school year.
Annick was recently interviewed by Sciencepoles about her participation in the MERGE project, an International Polar Year 2007-2008 project which will look at a slice of polar life from microbes up to small plants.