Extreme extremophiles: survival methods (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 21:46 (8 days ago) @ David Turell

Bacteria have been found in an Antarctic desert with no plants, living off air gases:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171206132211.htm

"Sydney led scientists have discovered that microbes in Antarctica have a previously unknown ability to scavenge hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from the air to stay alive in the extreme conditions.

"The find has implications for the search for life on other planets, suggesting e

"'Antarctica is one of the most extreme environments on Earth. Yet the cold, dark and dry desert regions are home to a surprisingly rich diversity of microbial communities," says study senior author and UNSW scientist Associate Professor Belinda Ferrari.

***

"'We found that the Antarctic microbes have evolved mechanisms to live on air instead, and they can get most of the energy and carbon they need by scavenging trace atmospheric gases, including hydrogen and carbon monoxide," she says.

***

"Both areas are pristine polar deserts devoid of any vascular plants," says Associate Professor Ferrari, of the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.
The researchers studied the microbial DNA in the surface soil from both sites and reconstructed the genomes of 23 of the microbes that lived there, including some of the first genomes of two groups of previously unknown bacteria called WPS-2 and AD3.

"They found the dominant species in the soils had genes which gave them a high affinity for hydrogen and carbon monoxide, allowing them to remove the trace gases from the air at a high enough rate to sustain their predicted energy needs and support primary production.

"'This new understanding about how life can still exist in physically extreme and nutrient-starved environments like Antarctica opens up the possibility of atmospheric gases supporting life on other planets," says Associate Professor Ferrari.

"Most organisms use energy from the sun or the earth to grow. More research is needed to see if this novel use of atmospheric gases as an alternative energy source is more widespread in Antarctica and elsewhere, the scientists say."

Comment: How tough life can be in survival anywhere is obvious in this example. I would presume life was made this competent when life was started to make sure it would survive.


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