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Haloferax volcanii Remains Viable and Shows Morphological Changes under Anoxic (CO2-Enriched) and Hypobaric (2.4 kPa) Atmospheric Conditions.

Authors
  • Robinson, Adam1
  • Ulrich, Shannon McQuaig1
  • 1 Department of Natural Science, St. Petersburg College, Clearwater, Florida, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Astrobiology
Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2022
Volume
22
Issue
7
Pages
829–837
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1089/ast.2021.0076
PMID: 35325555
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Potentially habitable zones have been discovered on Mars today in underground areas containing perchlorate brines. Understanding the low-pressure adaptations of microorganisms is essential in learning more about what life could potentially be found on Mars today or could have existed in the distant past. Many studies have looked at low-pressure adaptations in bacteria; however, studies aimed at understanding these adaptations in archaea are scarcer. Haloferax volcanii is a species of halophilic archaea documented to tolerate high concentrations of oxidizing agents present on Mars (i.e., perchlorates and nitrates). In this study, we expose H. volcanii to a hypobaric (2.4 kPa) and an anoxic CO2-enriched atmosphere in the presence of perchlorate, chlorate, and nitrate. While no growth was observed during incubation in these conditions, survivability was increased in cultures incubated in low-pressure atmospheric conditions compared to ambient Earth atmospheric pressures. Scanning electron microscopy observations showed morphological changes in low-pressure conditions not observed at ambient Earth atmospheric pressures. Results suggest that previously undocumented low-pressure adaptations in H. volcanii increase survivability in simulated subsurface martian conditions. Future experiments to understand the changes in gene expression under these conditions may be valuable to understand more about low-pressure adaptations in archaea.

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