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Aerobic microbes

  1. May 27, 2005 #1
    Hello all skilled biologists reading this post.

    Researcher Imre Friedmann et al. have selected a couple of critters suited for Mars if man were to warm it up. Two of these are aerobic; Matteia and Deinococcus radiodurans. I was wondering if the oxygen pressure on Mars is high enough for aerobic bacteria to breath there. If not, is the problem easily engineered?


    I appreciate all answers..
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2005 #2


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    If the bacteria strict aerobes, the amosphere pressure will probably not be sufficient for the bacteria to grow. However, if the bacteria can grow in the absent of oxygen or at low oxygen level, then there is a chance of survival.
    I did not find any information regarding there specifics of the respiratory chain.

    The bacteria could be engineered to use another electron acceptor. However several changes would have to be made.
  4. May 27, 2005 #3
    D. radiodurans is a very hardy bacteria, I would doubt it would be highly adaptable. Like extreme barophiles I think it is too specialized to adapt. Why not e.coli which is both fermentative (therefore anaerobic) and aerobic. Facultative anaerobes are really good, cyanobacteria would be a good choice as well.
  5. May 28, 2005 #4


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    The problem with E. coli and cyanobacteria is that these bacteria may not survive the stresses encounter on mars. However, use some of the D. radiodurans resistance gene and inserted inside a falcutative anaerobe.

    As you mention, D. radiodurans can surive extreme stress. the idea would be the insert new genetic information insinde D. radiodurans and Matteia. As far as i know,D. radiodurans can be transformed by some establised protocol.
  6. May 28, 2005 #5
    With reference to e.coli AND cyanobacteria is to basically propose a autotrophic bacteria that demonstrats high levels of adaptability. Lol e.coli (enterobacter strains) cant survive in our terrestrial environment for long forget mars. But they were the only examples I could come up with at the top of my head.

    Radiodurans is infact a very cool microorganism because it has chaperones for its proteins and really good "fixing" mechanisms for DNA. But this is just repsonse generated due to massive amounts ionizing radiation in its environement, which it has adapted to via these processes. Other microorganisms use ca2+ based organic acids and mn2+ for their preservation of genetic material (with respect to free radicals and temperature). This is also why I mentioned barophiles as some barophiles (who also happen to be thermophillic) like pyrolobus fumari also have these chapperon proteins.

    Radiodiurans has most of these adaptive features neatly packed in it, however because I am not a cosmologist or astronomer I have not clue how radiation or temperature is of consequence to mars. Yet I would have thought microorganisms that can function and adapt very well to the depletion of essential nutrients would be ideal for this. I understand the cloning bit with Radiodurans genes but, how will that help us? I mean there are just so many (eu)bacteria and archea which have specialization for extreme environments so what makes Radiodurans so special particularly for mars.

    I think I might do some reading on the atomsphere (if there is one) of mars; but after exams. Ciao!
  7. May 31, 2005 #6


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    Well, Mars is much colder than Earth, but there's probably sufficient warmth to support a hearty microbe...
    Solar radiation is a big problem for life on Mars. With no ozone layer on Mars, lots more sterilizing UV light hits the surface. This also seems to have converted Martian soil into something highly oxidative (destroys organic matter).

    Microbes would likely do better in the subsurface under current conditions.

    yep, there's an atmosphere...
  8. May 31, 2005 #7


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    For protection from the UV rays of the sun, how about going beneath the Martian ice caps?

    NASA is has also been thinking about this. (reference)
    "Data from a Nasa probe has revealed that enough heat from inside the Red Planet might be trapped at the poles to melt underground water ice. This could create lakes below the ice caps - and where there is water, there could be life."

    They go on to say there is carbon dioxide trapped under the caps as well which could help retain the heat. If CO2 is trapped below the ice, it would be reasonable guess there is some oxygen which had been dissolved in the ice that is trapped down there as well. Perhaps a probe like the Global Surveyor, has already verified this.
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