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Fungi survive mars-like conditions on the space station

Posted in Science on 31st Jan, 2016 01:08 AM by AlexMuller

250 miles up into space, the ISS hurtles silently around the Earth. Inside, experiments are underway, from harvesting lettuce to studying what living a year in space does to the body. A study concluded last month, has found that fungi  from Antarctica have survived living in Mars-like conditions for a period of 18 months.


The barren, windswept McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica are widely considered the most inhospitable environments on Earth. Powerful winds scrape clean the snow and ice and leave bare rock in a landscape cold, dry, and desolate. Yet even there life persists. Tucked in the rocky crags live particularly hardy creatures known as cryptoendolithic microorganisms. Among them are the two species of black fungi that rode on the ISS.
The species, known as Cryomyces antarcticus and Cryomyces minteri, were collected from the windy valleys by particularly enterprising individuals for the ESA and, once blasted into space, were carefully inserted into the EXPOSE-E platform. The EXPOSE-E is an experimental platform designed by the European Space Agency (ESA) to simulate extreme conditions.
The cells in which the cultures lived contained Martian atmospheric conditions, with approximately 95 percent carbon and a mere 3 percent nitrogen and 0.15 percent oxygen. Earth’s atmospheric makeup is mostly nitrogen and oxygen (78 percent, 21 percent, respectively) by comparison. And yet, even after existing in this extremely low pressure environment, with constant blasts of ultraviolet radiation for 18 months, 60 percent of the fungi managed to survive with their DNA perfectly intact.
"The results help to assess the survival ability and long-term stability of microorganisms and bioindicators on the surface of Mars” Rosa de la Torre Noetzel, of Spain's National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA), and co-researcher on the project, explained in a statement.
The fungi were a part of a larger ongoing experiment involving lichens titled, creatively, Lichens and Fungi Experiment (LIFE) where the two types of organisms are exposed to the harsh environments of space in order to aid in the search for life outside of Earth. And as we continue to find various life forms on Earth that can survive the seemingly inhospitable environments of space, perhaps we can glean information relevant to our own future on the red planet.

Tags: lifebiologyEarthMarsESAspace stationISSresearchexperiment

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Author: Guest
Posted: 2016-01-31
The fact that life on earth covers almost all places that are with their characteristics incompatible with requirements for humans, just illustrates the diversity and adaptability of life forms. I guess, the next task is to find those that will be suitable for other planets
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2016-01-31
Yes, this is exactly what these researchers are trying and already reporting success for fungi from Antarctica that survived living in Mars-like conditions for 18 months. Reply


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