Rock from Mars is a rare and precious resource here on Earth. So far we only have pieces of meteorite that have been removed from the red planet and migrate through the solar system until they hit the earth

A small piece of this priceless material has just been used in a fascinating way: Scientists ground up a small piece of the Mars meteorite Black Beauty and used it to breed extremophile microbes

Not only does this show that life could actually exist in real Mars conditions, but it also provides astrobiologists with new biosignatures that they can use to search for signs of ancient life in the Martian crust

“Black Beauty is one of the rarest substances on earth It is a unique Mars breccia, which consists of various pieces of the Martian crust (some of which are dated 4 42 ± 007 billion years) and ejected from the Martian surface millions of years ago, “said astrobiologist Tetyana Milojevic from the University of Vienna in Austria

“We had to take a rather bold approach to crushing a few grams of precious Martian rock to recreate the possible appearance of the earliest and simplest form of life on Mars”

If there was ancient life on Mars, then of all life on Earth it most likely resembles an extremophile.These are organisms that live in conditions that we once thought were too hostile to support life, such as subzero , super-salty lakes in Antarctica, or volcanic geothermal springs, or the lower crust deep beneath the ocean floor

On ancient Mars billions of years ago we are pretty sure that the atmosphere was thick and rich in carbon dioxide We got a sample of part of the rock that made up the Martian crust when the planet was a baby

Here on earth, organisms that can bind carbon dioxide and convert inorganic compounds (such as minerals) into energy are known as chemolithotrophe Therefore, the research team examined this type of organism that may have lived on Mars

“We can assume that there were life forms there in the early years of the red planet that looked like chemolithotrophs,” said Milojevic

The microbe they selected was Metallosphaera sedula, a thermoacidophilic archaean found in hot, acidic volcanic springs that was placed on top of the Martian mineral in a bioreactor that was carefully heated and fumigated with air and carbon dioxide. The team used microscopy to to observe the growth of cells

They actually grow – and Black Beauty’s leftover matrix allowed scientists to observe how the microbe used and transformed the material to build cells, leaving biomineral deposits behind – and they used scanning transmission electron microscopy to break those deposits down to the atomic level Investigate scale

“Grown on microcrustal material, the microbe formed a robust mineral capsule that consisted of complexed iron, manganese, and aluminum phosphates,” said Milojevic

“Apart from the massive encrustation of the cell surface, we have observed the intracellular formation of crystalline deposits of a very complex nature (Fe, Mn oxides, mixed Mn silicates) These are distinguishable unique growth traits of the Noachian Martian Breccia that we have not previously observed in the cultivation of this microbe on terrestrial mineral springs and a stony chondritic meteorite “

This could provide some invaluable data in the search for ancient life on Mars The Perseverance rover, which landed on the red planet last week, will be specifically looking for such biosigns. Now astrobiologists know what the M Sedula crystalline deposits look like it might be easier for them to identify potentially similar things in Percy’s samples

Research also shows the importance of using real Mars samples to conduct such studies, the researchers said. Although we simulated the Mars regolith available and Mars meteorites are rare, we can by using the real thing gain valuable knowledge

Part of Perseverance’s mission is to collect samples of Martian rocks that will hopefully be returned to Earth within the next decade.Scientists will certainly cry out for the dust, but we have no doubt at all that some are for extremophile research are provided

“Astrobiological research on Black Beauty and other similar ‘Flowers of the Universe’ can provide invaluable knowledge for analyzing returned Mars samples to assess their potential biogenicity,” said Milojevic

Mars

World News – FI – Scientists have grown microbes on actual rocks from Mars

Source: https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-grown-microbes-on-actual-rock-from-mars