Affordable Access

Access to the full text

Enceladus as a Potential Niche for Methanogens and Estimation of Its Biomass

Authors
  • i., laura
Publication Date
Nov 05, 2021
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/life11111182
OAI: oai:mdpi.com:/2075-1729/11/11/1182/
Source
MDPI
Keywords
Language
English
License
Green
External links

Abstract

Enceladus is a potential target for future astrobiological missions. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft demonstrated that the Saturnian moon harbors a salty ocean beneath its icy crust and the existence and analysis of the plume suggest water–rock reactions, consistent with the possible presence of hydrothermal vents. Particularly, the plume analysis revealed the presence of molecular hydrogen, which may be used as an energy source by microorganisms ( e.g., methanogens). This could support the possibility that populations of methanogens could establish in such environments if they exist on Enceladus. We took a macroscale approximation using ecological niche modeling to evaluate whether conditions suitable for methanogenic archaea on Earth are expected in Enceladus. In addition, we employed a new approach for computing the biomass using the Monod growth model. The response curves for the environmental variables performed well statistically, indicating that simple correlative models may be used to approximate large-scale distributions of these genera on Earth. We found that the potential hydrothermal conditions on Enceladus fit within the macroscale conditions identified as suitable for methanogens on Earth, and estimated a concentration of 1010–1011 cells/cm3.

Report this publication

Statistics

Seen <100 times