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  • 1
    Call number: AWI Bio-20-93990
    Description / Table of Contents: Assumed comparable environmental conditions of early Mars and early Earth in 3.7 Ga ago – at a time when first fossil records of life on Earth could be found – suggest the possibility of life emerging on both planets in parallel. As conditions changed, the hypothetical life on Mars either became extinct or was able to adapt and might still exist in biological niches. The controversial discussed detection of methane on Mars led to the assumption, that it must have a recent origin – either abiotic through active volcanism or chemical processes, or through biogenic production. Spatial and seasonal variations in the detected methane concentrations and correlations between the presence of water vapor and geological features such as subsurface hydrogen, which are occurring together with locally increased detected concentrations of methane, gave fuel to the hypothesis of a possible biological source of the methane on Mars. Therefore the phylogenetically old methanogenic archaea, which have evolved under early Earth conditions, are often used as model-organisms in astrobiological studies to investigate the potential of life to exist in possible extraterrestrial habitats on our neighboring planet. In this thesis methanogenic archaea originating from two extreme environments on Earth were investigated to test their ability to be active under simulated Mars analog conditions. These extreme environments – the Siberian permafrost-affected soil and the chemoautotrophically based terrestrial ecosystem of Movile cave, Romania – are regarded as analogs for possible Martian (subsurface) habitats. Two novel species of methanogenic archaea isolated from these environments were described within the frame of this thesis. It could be shown that concentrations up to 1 wt% of Mars regolith analogs added to the growth media had a positive influence on the methane production rates of the tested methanogenic archaea, whereas higher concentrations resulted in decreasing rates. Nevertheless it was possible for the organisms to metabolize when incubated on water-saturated soil matrixes made of Mars regolith analogs without any additional nutrients. Long-term desiccation resistance of more than 400 days was proven with reincubation and indirect counting of viable cells through a combined treatment with propidium monoazide (to inactivate DNA of destroyed cells) and quantitative PCR. Phyllosilicate rich regolith analogs seem to be the best soil mixtures for the tested methanogenic archaea to be active under Mars analog conditions. Furthermore, in a simulation chamber experiment the activity of the permafrost methanogen strain Methanosarcina soligelidi SMA-21 under Mars subsurface analog conditions could be proven. Through real-time wavelength modulation spectroscopy measurements the increase in the methane concentration at temperatures down to -5 °C could be detected. The results presented in this thesis contribute to the understanding of the activity potential of methanogenic archaea under Mars analog conditions and therefore provide insights to the possible habitability of present-day Mars (near) subsurface environments. Thus, it contributes also to the data interpretation of future life detection missions on that planet. For example the ExoMars mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos which is planned to be launched in 2018 and is aiming to drill in the Martian subsurface
    Type of Medium: Dissertations
    Pages: VI, 108 Blätter , Illustrationen
    Language: English
    Note: Dissertation, Universität Potsdam, 2015 , Table of contents Preface Table of contents Summary Zusammenfassung 1. Introduction 1.1. Environmental conditions on past and present Mars 1.2. Detection of methane on Mars 1.3. Methanogenic archaea 1.4. Description of study sites 1.5. Aims and approaches 1.6. Overview of the publications 2. Publication I: Methanosarcina soligelidi sp. nov., a desiccationandfreeze-thaw-resistant methanogenic archaeon from a Siberianpermafrost-affected soil 3. Publication II: Methanobacterium movilense sp. nov.,ahydrogenotrophic, secondary-alcohol-utilizing methanogen fromthe anoxic sediment of a subsurface lake 4. Publication III: Influence of Martian Regolith Analogs on the activityand growth of methanogenic archaea,with special regard to long-term desiccation 5. Publication IV: Laser spectroscopic real time measurements ofmethanogenic activity under simulated Martian subsurface conditions 6. Synthesis and Conclusion 6.1. Synthesis 6.2. Conclusion and future perspectives 7. References 8. Acknowledgments
    Location: AWI Reading room
    Branch Library: AWI Library
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2017-07-18
    Description: Assumed comparable environmental conditions of early Mars and early Earth in 3.7 Ga ago – at a time when first fossil records of life on Earth could be found – suggest the possibility of life emerging on both planets in parallel. As conditions changed, the hypothetical life on Mars either became extinct or was able to adapt and might still exist in biological niches. The controversial discussed detection of methane on Mars led to the assumption, that it must have a recent origin – either abiotic through active volcanism or chemical processes, or through biogenic production. Spatial and seasonal variations in the detected methane concentrations and correlations between the presence of water vapor and geological features such as subsurface hydrogen, which are occurring together with locally increased detected concentrations of methane, gave fuel to the hypothesis of a possible biological source of the methane on Mars. Therefore the phylogenetically old methanogenic archaea, which have evolved under early Earth conditions, are often used as model-organisms in astrobiological studies to investigate the potential of life to exist in possible extraterrestrial habitats on our neighboring planet. In this thesis methanogenic archaea originating from two extreme environments on Earth were investigated to test their ability to be active under simulated Mars analog conditions. These extreme environments – the Siberian permafrost-affected soil and the chemoautotrophically based terrestrial ecosystem of Movile cave, Romania – are regarded as analogs for possible Martian (subsurface) habitats. Two novel species of methanogenic archaea isolated from these environments were described within the frame of this thesis. It could be shown that concentrations up to 1 wt% of Mars regolith analogs added to the growth media had a positive influence on the methane production rates of the tested methanogenic archaea, whereas higher concentrations resulted in decreasing rates. Nevertheless it was possible for the organisms to metabolize when incubated on water-saturated soil matrixes made of Mars regolith analogs without any additional nutrients. Long-term desiccation resistance of more than 400 days was proven with reincubation and indirect counting of viable cells through a combined treatment with propidium monoazide (to inactivate DNA of destroyed cells) and quantitative PCR. Phyllosilicate rich regolith analogs seem to be the best soil mixtures for the tested methanogenic archaea to be active under Mars analog conditions. Furthermore, in a simulation chamber experiment the activity of the permafrost methanogen strain Methanosarcina soligelidi SMA-21 under Mars subsurface analog conditions could be proven. Through real-time wavelength modulation spectroscopy measurements the increase in the methane concentration at temperatures down to -5 °C could be detected. The results presented in this thesis contribute to the understanding of the activity potential of methanogenic archaea under Mars analog conditions and therefore provide insights to the possible habitability of present-day Mars (near) subsurface environments. Thus, it contributes also to the data interpretation of future life detection missions on that planet. For example the ExoMars mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos which is planned to be launched in 2018 and is aiming to drill in the Martian subsurface.
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Thesis , NonPeerReviewed
    Format: application/pdf
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-10-22
    Description: Traces of life are nearly ubiquitous on Earth. However, a central unresolved question is whether these traces always indicate an active microbial community or whether, in extreme environments, such as hyperarid deserts, they instead reflect just dormant or dead cells. Although microbial biomass and diversity decrease with increasing aridity in the Atacama Desert, we provide multiple lines of evidence for the presence of an at times metabolically active, microbial community in one of the driest places on Earth. We base this observation on four major lines of evidence: (i) a physico-chemical characterization of the soil habitability after an exceptional rain event, (ii) identified biomolecules indicative of potentially active cells [e.g., presence of ATP, phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs), metabolites, and enzymatic activity], (iii) measurements of in situ replication rates of genomes of uncultivated bacteria reconstructed from selected samples, and (iv) microbial community patterns specific to soil parameters and depths. We infer that the microbial populations have undergone selection and adaptation in response to their specific soil microenvironment and in particular to the degree of aridity. Collectively, our results highlight that even the hyperarid Atacama Desert can provide a habitable environment for microorganisms that allows them to become metabolically active following an episodic increase in moisture and that once it decreases, so does the activity of the microbiota. These results have implications for the prospect of life on other planets such as Mars, which has transitioned from an earlier wetter environment to todays extreme hyperaridity.
    Keywords: Life Sciences (General)
    Type: ARC-E-DAA-TN53775 , PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States); 115; 11; 2670-2675
    Format: text
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-09-01
    Print ISSN: 1531-1074
    Electronic ISSN: 1557-8070
    Topics: Biology , Physics
    Published by Mary Ann Liebert
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