📰 A window into life on Mars


Beneath the permafrost of Lost Hammer Spring in the Canadian High Arctic lies an extremely salty, very cold and almost oxygen-free environment, comparable to parts of Mars. This is the place to go for anyone interested in forms of life (Life is the name given 🙂 that could exist or have existed on Mars. Intense work in extremely difficult conditions brought a team of Research (Scientific research primarily refers to all actions undertaken with a view to …) of the’McGill University (McGill University, located in Montreal, Quebec, is one of …) discovering microbes never recorded before. Take advantage of the techniques from genomics (Genomics is a discipline of modern biology. Study how …) cutting edge, the researchers also collected data (In information technology (IT), data is an elementary description, often …) on metabolism (Metabolism is the set of molecular and energetic transformations …) of these microbes.

In a study recently published in You ISME NewspaperScientists have shown, for the first time, that microbial populations living in the Canadian High Arctic, in conditions similar to those on Mars, can survive by absorbing simple inorganic compounds also present on Mars – methane (Methane is a hydrocarbon with chemical formula CH4. It is the simplest compound in the …), sulfide (In chemistry, a sulfide is a chemical compound or the combination of sulfur with a degree …)sulphate, carbon monoxide (Carbon monoxide is one of the carbon oxides. Its formula is written CO and its formula …) And carbon dioxide (Carbon dioxide, commonly known as carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide, is a …). This discovery is so interesting that theEuropean space agency (The European Space Agency (ESA) is …) samples selected from the sediments of surface (A surface generally refers to the surface layer of an object. The term a …) of the Lost Hammer source, which will be used to test the life sensing capabilities of the tools to be used in the next mission ExoMars (ExoMars is the name of a European Space Agency space mission planned for …).

A genomic analysis of microbes sampled from surface sediments near the Lost Hammer source, approximately 900 km south of North Pole (Earth’s geographic North Pole, or simply North Pole, is the highest point …)in Canada, it could provide interesting data on the type of life forms that could exist, or have existed, on Mars.
© McGill

A model of life on Mars Located in Nunavut in the Canadian High Arctic, Lost Hammer Spring is one of the coldest and saltiest land springs discovered to date. day (The day or day is the interval between sunrise and sunset; it is the …). L’water (Water is an omnipresent chemical compound on Earth, essential for everyone …) which can cross up to 600 meters of permafrost to reach the surface has an extreme salinity of 24%, maintains a temperature (Temperature is a physical quantity measured using a thermometer and …) around -5 ° C and is practically free ofoxygen (Oxygen is a chemical element of the chalcogen family, of …) (dissolved oxygen level below 1 ppm). The Lost Hammer spring never freezes due to its very high salt concentration; the aquatic habitat therefore remains liquid (The liquid phase is a state of matter. In this form, matter is …) despite the freezing temperatures.

These conditions are similar to some regions on Mars, where extensive salt deposits and potential cold salt sources have been observed. Previous studies have reported tracks (TRACES (TRAde Control and Expert System) is a veterinary health network of …) of microbes in environments similar to those found on Mars, but this is one of the few to reveal the presence of live and active microbes.

The research group of theUniversity (A university is a higher education institution whose goal is the …) McGill, led by Professor Lyle Whyte of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, set out to find data on what life forms might exist on Mars. Using state-of-the-art genomic tools e microbiology (Microbiology is a subdiscipline of biology based on the study of …) cellular, has detected and characterized a microbial population never listed before and, above all, active. The search for microbes in this exceptional source, then the sequencing (In biochemistry, sequencing consists of determining the linear order of …) of their DNA and mRNA, they were not easy.

A form of life adapted to extreme conditions

“It was only after a few years of work on sediments that we were able to detect the presence of active microbial populations,” explains Elisse Magnuson, PhD student in the PR Whyte laboratory and lead author of the paper. “The salinity of the environment interferes with the extraction and sequencing of microbes. The discovery of traces of active microbial populations was therefore particularly gratifying.”

The team isolated and sequenced the DNA of the microbes taken from the source and were thus able to reconstruct the genome (The genome is all the genetic material of an individual or a …) of about 110 microorganisms, most of which had never been observed before. From these genomes, the researchers discovered how microorganisms manage to survive and grow in this inhospitable environment, thus collecting data that can be applied to potential life forms in similar environments. Using mRNA sequencing, the team pinpointed the active genes in the genomes and characterized highly unusual microbes that metabolized under these extreme conditions.

life without organic matter

“The microbes we found and characterized at the Lost Hammer source are amazing; unlike other microorganisms, they have no need (Needs are at the level of the interaction between the individual and the environment. It is …) oxygen or organic matter to live, says Professor Whyte. They survive by absorbing simple inorganic compounds, such as methane, sulphides, sulphates, carbon monoxide carbon (Carbon is a chemical element of the family of crystallogens, symbol C, …) and carbon dioxide, also present on Mars. Since they can also repair carbon dioxide andnitrogen (Nitrogen is a chemical element of the pnictogen family, symbol N and …) of the’atmosphere (The word atmosphere can have several meanings 🙂they are very well equipped to survive and thrive in hostile environments Land (Earth is the third planet in the Solar System in order of distance …) or elsewhere “.

Researchers will now focus on Culture (Culture is a pan-galactic civilization invented by Iain M. Banks through his …) and more characterization thrust (In aerodynamics, thrust is the force exerted by the moving air …) of the most abundant and active members of this strange microbial ecosystem to better understand how they can live in the conditions of cold (Cold is the opposite sensation of heat, associated with low temperatures.) and the extremes of salinity of the Lost Hammer Spring. The team hopes their work will then be able to decode the mysterious isotopes of sulfur (Sulfur is a chemical element of the chalcogen family, symbol S and …) and carbon compared to the Curiosity rover NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“National Administration of …) recently collected from crater (For the crater of volcanic origin, see Volcanic crater For the crater of origin …) Scabies (Scabies or mal de Sainte-Marie is a contagious skin disease specific to …) on Mars.

I study

The article “Active lithoautotrophic microbial community and oxidizing methane in an anoxic, subzero and hypersaline high arctic spring”, by E. Magnuson, I. Altshuler, M. Á. Fernández ‑ Martínez et al., Was published in The ISME Journal.

Did you like this article? Do you want to support us? Share it on social networks with your friends and / or comment on it, this will encourage us to post more similar topics!


Leave a Comment