UNLV Magazine - Fall 2010
UNLV Magazine is published by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Marketing & Public Relations Office
Fall 2010 | 27 S cattered across the state, pockets of boiling hot springs teem with organisms. Never having been “scientifically discovered,” these life forms don’t even have names. They just eat and multiply in there, surviving in temperatures that other creatures can’t. Useful little buggers, thinks UNLV microbiologist Brian Hedlund. Hedlund has made a career out of exploring what exists in the depths of Ne- vada’s hot springs. Unidentified organisms make up between 45 percent and 90 percent of what’s living in there. Such heat-loving bacteria and microorganisms, called thermophiles, are the darlings of the booming biotech industry now. The enzymes they throw off spark bio- chemical reactions and are key to a process that rapidly multiplies DNA. There are hundreds of different species, and many thousands more that are yet to be From Bacteria to Biofuels may one day quench the thirst for renewable fuels. e R e e His success at bioprospecting for new hot springs organisms has earned Brian Hedlund major professional kudos. Life sciences professor Brian Hedlund has become an international expert of the microscopic organisms found in hot springs.