Scientists have been trying to find signs of microbial life in one of the most extreme spots on Earth, offering further hope that life could also be found in some environments unknown space. In the depths of the Canadian Arctic, scientists have managed to identify signs of life in the super-saline, low-oxygen waters of Lost Hammer Spring. Spring water rises through 1,970 ft of permafrost in one of the coldest places on Earth. The discovery raises hopes for many that microbial life (if it exists), could also be found in the similar environment of the icy moons Europa and Enceladus.
“It took several years of working with sediments before we were able to successfully detect active microbial communities. The salinity of the medium affects both the extraction process and the microbial sequence, so when we were able to find evidence of active microbial communities, it was a very satisfying experience. heart,” speak Microbiology team leader Elisse Magnuson of McGill University, Canada.
The bacteria the team found are completely new with some very specific adaptations that allow them to survive and thrive in extreme environments like Lost Hammer Spring. Most importantly, these bacteria are photoautotrophs. These types of organisms, whose name is quite literally ‘stone eaters’, generate energy through the oxidation of inorganic molecules. Chemolithotropes can exist with or without oxygen.
Microbiologist Lyle Whyte explains: “The microorganisms we found and described at Lost Hammer Spring were surprising, because, unlike other microorganisms, they are not dependent on the organism. organic matter or oxygen to live”.
These microorganisms can survive by ingesting and breathing simple inorganic compounds such as methane, sulfides, sulfates, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, all of which are found on Mars.
Whyte, a professor of polar microbiology at Canada’s McGill University, speak“They can also fix carbon dioxide and nitrogen from the atmosphere, all of which make them highly adapted to survive and thrive in very extreme environments on Earth and beyond.”
Scientists believe that the ice on Mars’ polar caps formed from super-alkaline water and beneath the icy surface of Mars. Europa6th largest moon of Jupiterand Enceladus, 6th largest moon of Saturn, are oceans containing super alkaline water. These environments may be hosts to similar extraterrestrial microorganisms that have adapted to the conditions.