Honors and Awards
EM Photos: Cellulose Fibers
One-half mile underground in New Mexico is a 2000 foot thick salt deposit that was laid down in the early Permian period (~253 million years ago). As a side project we have been using EM to learn what biological macromolecules may have been trapped in this salt when it was deposited. The major biological material which we have detected to date are cellulose microfibers shown in this micrograph. The thinnest fiber is 5 nm in diameter. These are the oldest native biological macromolecules ever discovered on Earth by about 200 million years and represent an exciting window into the distant past. Further work will employ C-14 dating and stable isotope analysis.