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Andrea and Don Stierle talk with Hank about their work analyzing various microorganisms in the Berkeley Pit and how they discovered a new type of antibiotic. Then Jessi joins in to show off Blueberry, the northern blue-tongued skink.

Hosted by: Hank Green

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Hello! And welcome to Sci Show Talk Show the (show) where we talk to intresting people about intresting things and today we are talking to Andrea and Don Stierle reasurch scientists at the University of Montana, who have done a lot of amazing things in your long carrear as scientists.
H: So you guys are married. But you have also been doing reasurch together for thirty plus years?
A: Absolutly
H: And have been looking at the Berkeley Pit for intresting organisms that may live there that may be useful to humans.
A: Absolutly!
H: So, talk a little bit about, like, uh, what each of you do and... So you have taught, but you no longer teach; you are just reasurchers now?
A: Correct. We are strictly reasurch professors at UM.
H: Okay
A: So I am more of the biology end of things, so wheather we are looking at microbes in the Berkley Pitt or microbes in the bark of a yew tree, the first step, of course, is to isolate these microorganisms, and we pick fungi and sometimes bacteria because they are great chemists. They do beautiful chemistry, and they do chemistry with a reason. They live in an ecosystem that they have to interact with, so they may be fighting off other fungi or bacteria, so they have to make antibiotics like penicillin. They may also have to react to low PH, acidic conditions, or high metals, and so they produce small molecules to defend themselves. Humans can isolate those chemicals and use them for our own purpaces. So I isolate these guys, establish them in pure culture, grow them in fermentation broths.
H: How do you take one from a bucket of Berkley Pitt water?
A: Streak and streak and streak and streak.
H: So, like, this one, take it out and put it here, and take that out and put it here. (Motioning moving it container to container)
A: Exactly! And you slowly come up with pure cultures.
H: And you can tell the difference by looking at that?
A: Absolutly! Their morphology is different and you can grow them in their different broths so whether you feed them sucrose or glucose or lactose you change their chemistry.

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