Skip to comments.Never-before-seen microbes found in Chile’s desert
Posted on 06/21/2012 5:48:03 PM PDT by null and void
Rare find in Atacama desert could be linked to Mars research.
Chile's Atacama desert. Photo courtesy of University of Colorado-Boulder.
A team led by University of Colorado-Boulder has found extremely rare life on the soil at the top of two volcanoes in Chiles Atacama desert. Results from the 2009 expedition, released last week, said unique microbes were discovered that may be linked to research on Mars.
Team member Ryan Lynch, a doctoral student at CU-Boulder, explained the significance of this discovery to The Santiago Times in an interview Wednesday.
Mars is pretty different from Earth, he said. But one of the things this research could do is help us understand and find the limit to life here, how Mars could be favorable to life.
The driest desert on earth, the Atacama is one of the most uninhabitable environments on earth. The desert spans 600 miles and is located from Perus southern border into northern Chile. During winter, temperatures can go as high as 79 degrees Fahrenheit but as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
The microbes were discovered at around 6,000 meters elevation on Volcán Llullaillaco and Volcán Socompa. The thin atmosphere and high radiation in the volcanoes make them some of the most similar places on Earth to Mars. CU-Boulder Professor Steve Schmidt, who led the expedition, is also working with astrobiologists to model what past conditions were like on Mars.
What is most interesting to the researchers is the non-complexity of the new organisms. The researchers say they are capable of converting energy in a completely different way compared to known species.
But these are very different than anything else that has been cultured, Lynch said. Genetically, theyre at least 5 percent different than anything else in the DNA database of 2.5 million sequences.
The bacteria discovered have not yet been identified, as scientists continue to examine the organisms.
The process of identifying microbes is a long one, but our next steps are to grow them in labs and test them, Lynch told The Santiago Times. We are making progress sequencing genes.
Nope, not me.
Those are some hardy bugs to live in those kind of conditions.
I wonder if they’ll be voting for owebama in November?
RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!
My first thought too...
There is something very goofy about the report as posted.
First, they say the desert spans 600 miles...how wide is it?
Is it one inch wide. What is the square mileage?
Two, the temp varies from 45 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit? In
the winter? Wow, certainly inhospitable, just like
Mars (sarcasm mode)
Three, they say it utilizes energy in ways not seen in
other oganisms, and that these are very different organisms.
Then they say they have to culture the orgs. and test
them..How did you find out they were so different if they
haven’t carried out the tests and/or cultured them ALREADY?
Fourth: The organism are so much less complex with a 5% difference
in DNA...If they were only 10% the SAME, then I might go along
Fifth: The Mars connection is based on what Mars conditions
were a long time ago...I don’t think we would know what
those conditions are, only speculation is possible.
The descriptions are too incomplete to really understand
exactly what the researchers are doing.
Good find. Thanks.
I bet I've got it wrong again.
“I wonder if theyll be voting for owebama in November?”
There is no evidence that they are parasites, so probably not;)
It was ‘negative waves’, not negative vibes.
You must have been a tank driver yourself to catch that!
Ya know, when I first clicked on the article I figured “Oh, Hell, it’s probably just salmonella.”
Actually, in the movie, he used both ‘waves’ and ‘vibes’ in different segments of the movie.
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