Key Ingredient for Coronavirus Testing Comes from Lassen’s Hydrothermal Waters

Boiling Springs Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Photo: Lassen Volcanic NP

The gates of Lassen Volcanic National Park remain closed as the Coronavirus outbreak continues to spread through the United States, but the park’s hydrothermal activity is still key to the pandemic discussion. As it turns out, the key ingredient in the testing kit for the Coronavirus is found in the hydrothermal waters of Lassen and Yellowstone National Park.

A species of heat-loving bacteria called Thermus aquaticus that thrives in the hydrothermal waters of Lassen produces unusual heat-resistant enzymes. Those enzymes are a key component in polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, a method used widely in labs around the world to study small samples of genetic material by making millions of copies.

That exact scientific process is being used to test for Covid-19 around the world.

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Believe or it or not, a key ingredient in coronavirus tests is found in hydrothermal waters at Lassen Volcanic and Yellowstone National Park. ♨️⚗️⚛️ #NoJoke A species of heat-loving bacteria called Thermus aquaticus that thrives in hot water features in both parks produces unusual heat-resistant enzymes. Those enzymes are a key component in polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, a method used widely in labs around the world to study small samples of genetic material by making millions of copies. This technique, which would have been impossible without the discovery of heat-resistant bacteria in Yellowstone by microbiologist Thomas Brock more than half a century ago, is now being used to boost the signal of viruses in most of the available tests for COVID-19. #FindYourPark

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The technique of using Thermus aqauticus for this testing was developed in Yellowstone National Park, which features similar hydrothermal waters to Lassen, by microbiologist Thomas Brock more than 50 years ago. Today, the process is used to boost the signal of Coronavirus in people tested.

Science is cool! Stay home and safe, NorCal.

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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