Questions for Mystery microbes of the sea



Before reading

1) What is the tree of life?

2) Can you think of a place on Earth that isn’t home to some variety of microscopic life? Why or why not?

During reading

1) What important question was Alyson Santoro trying to answer with her research?

2) Define archaeon.

3) Why does ammonia pose such a threat to ocean life?

4) Explain the second mystery Santoro sought to solve.

5) What is a greenhouse gas?

6) List some of the variables involved in growing microbes in a laboratory.

7) Give a reason why some microbes might multiply faster in the lab than others.

8) How did Santoro’s leaving her ocean water samples untouched help her research?

9) What is a heavy atom?

10) When were archaea discovered to form a separate domain of life?

11) Define extremophile.

12) Provide two facts to support this statement: Archaea are one of the most common living things in the ocean.

After reading

1) Describe the two major roles archaea play in regulating the ocean and atmosphere.

2) Had you ever heard of archaea before reading this story? What more would you like to know about this domain of life?

3) Many archaea are extremophiles. Describe some locations on Earth where you might expect to find extremophiles living.


1) What could archaea teach us about life on other planets in our solar system?