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Main Title: Methanogenic Archaea Can Produce Methane in Deliquescence-Driven Mars Analog Environments
Author(s): Maus, Deborah
Heinz, Jacob
Schirmack, Janosch
Airo, Alessandro
Kounaves, Samuel P.
Wagner, Dirk
Schulze-Makuch, Dirk
Type: Article
Language Code: en
Abstract: The current understanding of the Martian surface indicates that briny environments at the near-surface are temporarily possible, e.g. in the case of the presumably deliquescence-driven Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL). However, whether such dynamic environments are habitable for terrestrial organisms remains poorly understood. This hypothesis was tested by developing a Closed Deliquescence System (CDS) consisting of a mixture of desiccated Martian Regolith Analog (MRA) substrate, salts, and microbial cells, which over the course of days became wetted through deliquescence. The methane produced via metabolic activity for three methanogenic archaea: Methanosarcina mazei, M. barkeri and M. soligelidi, was measured after exposing them to three different MRA substrates using either NaCl or NaClO4 as a hygroscopic salt. Our experiments showed that (1) M. soligelidi rapidly produced methane at 4 °C, (2) M. barkeri produced methane at 28 °C though not at 4 °C, (3) M. mazei was not metabolically reactivated through deliquescence, (4) none of the species produced methane in the presence of perchlorate, and (5) all species were metabolically most active in the phyllosilicate-containing MRA. These results emphasize the importance of the substrate, microbial species, salt, and temperature used in the experiments. Furthermore, we show here for the first time that water provided by deliquescence alone is sufficient to rehydrate methanogenic archaea and to reactivate their metabolism under conditions roughly analogous to the near-subsurface Martian environment.
Issue Date: 8-Jan-2020
Date Available: 17-Feb-2020
DDC Class: 500 Naturwissenschaften
600 Technik, Technologie
Subject(s): Martian Regolith Analog
methanogenic archaea
in vitro
Closed Deliquescence System
Sponsor/Funder: ERC/FP7/339231/EU/Habitability of Martian Environments: Exploring the Physiological and Environmental Limits of Life/HOME
TU Berlin, Open-Access-Mittel - 2019
Journal Title: Scientific Reports
Publisher: Springer Nature
Publisher Place: London
Volume: 10
Issue: 1
Article Number: 6
Publisher DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-56267-4
EISSN: 2045-2322
Appears in Collections:Zentrum für Astronomie und Astrophysik » Publications

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