Magnifying the MicroAmazon
It’s 8:00 a.m., and the field thermometer already reads 98° F. And that temperature does not account for the steam rising around Rosa Vásquez as she crouches over the river to collect her next sample.
On this early-August morning in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, Vásquez scrapes lichen off rocks and gathers cyanobacteria from the mud beneath the water, looking for genetic clues that explain how microorganisms can endure this environment — how they have evolved to survive in a river so hot, it boils.
“My grandmother grew up in a high-Andes town that had almost no access to western medicine, so she had to rely on traditional medicinal knowledge,” Vásquez says, recalling the roots of her current research.
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