Sequencing than soaking in Hot Spring
There are many volcanoes and earthquakes in Japan, but it is not always a bad thing, they are also responsible for the many hot springs. Most Japanese people love soaking in a hot spring and they believe that this eliminates fatigue and improves health. Hot springs also had a great contribution to biotechnology via the heat resistant DNA polymerase from Thermus aquaticus (Taq) and its derivatives. Not only PCR, but also Sanger sequencing was accelerated by these heat resistant enzymes as we all know well.
Scientists have started to study the genome/transcriptome world in hot springs with NGS technologies. Murakami et al., peformed 16S-rRNA (Sanger sequencing) and meta-transcriptome analysis from small RNA (GS FLX sequencing) of groundwater (up to 1,000 m depth) from Yunohara hot spring, Japan. Their phylogenetic analysis using 16S rRNA showed the classification of 17 species including archaea and eubacteria. There are only 2 or 3 dominant species in typical cases of other hot springs, but this one is rich in diversity. Furthermore, they found the very unique group “Archaeal Richmond Mine Acidophilic Nanoorganisms (ARMAN)” which is a small organism/cell with only 200 nm size! Their small RNA analysis identified 64,194 (20,057 nonredundant) cDNA sequences, and they found several novel non coding RNAs which have a very stable secondary structure.
Therefore, hot springs may still be gold mines for useful genes and important biological knowledge of unknown underground ecosystems.