One of the strains of cyanobacteria that live in hot springs and geysers, will be able to survive on Mars due to the unique version of chlorophyll that absorbs red and not green light and working in dim lighting. Its description was published in the journal Science.
About it writes RIA NOVOSTI.
“Such statements may seem fantastic, but the space Agency and private companies are now trying to find or create organisms that could help us colonize Mars, producing oxygen and creating a biosphere on its surface. Open us microbes can survive in the soil of Mars thanks to the ability to catch even the dimmest of lights,” said Elmars Krausz (Elmars Krausz) from the Australian National University in Canberra.
In recent years, scientists have begun to actively discuss the hypothesis of panspermia — the idea that life on Earth or other planets could be brought from space. It was invented in 1903 by the famous Swedish chemist Svante specific rate constant, however, until recently it has not been seriously considered.
The situation has changed after the experiments on Board the Russian series biosatellites “Bion-M”, has proven the possibility of survival of microbes in the fall of the meteorite on Earth. In addition, American scientists have shown that fossils of terrestrial life could be “broken” from the surface of the Earth with asteroids to be thrown into space, where they could get in the past on the moon, Mars and other planets.
Such experiments, as well as the discovery of traces of potentially habitable lakes on Mars, scientists are forced to think about what conditions can live Martian microbes and what is necessary for their survival. One of the candidates for the role of such “aliens” are now considered bacteria-the extremophiles living in hot springs, deserts and ice-cold lakes of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Krausz and his colleagues found until the “Martian” bacteria that can live on the surface of Mars without human help or extra nutrients right now, studying the microfauna of the various hot springs and geysers, located in the Chilean part of the Andes.
When scientists began to experiment with the cyanobacteria species Chroococcidiopsis thermalis, they noticed one unusual thing — when they lowered the light levels or making the light more red microbial growth was hampered not as much as they expected to see it. When biologists reduced the light level to the “Martian” values, the bacteria continued to grow and develop nutrients.
Trying to figure out what was the reason, biologists have studied their contents, and analyzed the device and the work of the chlorophyll molecules. These microbes produce three types of light-sensitive pigments, a, f and d. The first one reacts to the green light in “normal” cyanobacteria and plays a key role in photosynthesis, and the last two to absorb light with long waves and helps the chloroplasts to heat up to working temperature.
In Chroococcidiopsis thermalis they work very differently — when lighting is poor, leading role in the photosynthesis begins to play the f pigment that absorbs thermal radiation, chlorophyll a was modified so that it is “configured” to work with the “dark” red.
These modifications have not only advantages but also disadvantages — if a tube with Chroococcidiopsis thermalis to put on bright sunlight, the microbes will die almost instantly due to “overload” and the destruction of their photosynthetic chains. On Mars, on the other hand, it will not be a problem as the Sun shines there a few times weaker than on Earth.
The opening of these cyanobacteria, as noted Krausz, interesting not only from the point of view of the colonization of Mars, but also for the search of traces of extraterrestrial life. Now astronomers are to be found not only traces of the usual “green” chlorophyll, but its “red” cousins in the cold atmospheres of exoplanets, scientists conclude.