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Microbes craft unusual crystals

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12:09pm, March 30, 2004

In the flooded tunnels of an abandoned iron mine below the town of Tennyson, Wis., scuba divers recently retrieved a curious community of bacteria that grow bizarre, hairlike crystals. "The crystals look like tangled spaghetti," says earth scientist Jill Banfield of the University of California, Berkeley. Now, Banfield and her colleagues have figured out how the bacteria produce these structures, a discovery that could help scientists design new materials and provide clues to possible life on other planets.

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