Podcast: Antarctic microbes from Scott’s Discovery Expedition

In 1901, Captain Robert Falcon Scott led a team of men on the Discovery Expedition to explore the mysteries of Antarctica.

The expedition is famous for its scientific legacy, including the discovery of snow-free valleys, emperor penguin colonies and the location of the South Magnetic Pole.

But the team also brought back some mysterious life forms living at the bottom of a lake. It took nearly 60 years for scientists to work out what they really were: cyanobacteria.

Dr Anne Jungblut is a microbiologist studying cyanobacteria today at the Natural History Museum. In this episode, we visit the museum to learn more about these microbes, and see the very samples that Scott’s team brought back over 100 years ago…

Anand Jagatia

Music: Alex Fitch
Image: Scott’s Expedition Leaving for Antarctica – 1901, Archives New Zealand
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2 Responses to Podcast: Antarctic microbes from Scott’s Discovery Expedition

  1. Jennifer says:

    I never realized it could take so long to identify a species of bacteria and that a sample so old could be preserved. It is truly fascinating to see how the research with cyanobacteria can be utilized to gain understanding of how these bacteria provide a kind of ecological system to allow microbes that normally could not grow to grow. It truly is fascinating!

  2. C. J. Leger says:


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