Astrobiology

Fungus survives simulated Mars

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
530,
Page:
8
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/530008b
Published online

A small percentage of fungal cells were still able to divide after exposure to Mars-like conditions aboard the International Space Station.

Dried samples of the Antarctic-dwelling black fungi Cryomyces antarcticus and Cryomyces minteri, which live inside rocks, were exposed for 18 months to a simulated Martian atmosphere of 95% carbon dioxide, as well as high levels of ultraviolet and cosmic radiation. Silvano Onofri at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy, and his colleagues found that less than 10% of the samples divided and formed colonies after their return to Earth. However, up to two-thirds of the cells remained intact and yielded stable DNA.

The findings could inform future searches for evidence of life on Mars, the authors say.

Astrobiology 15, 10521059 (2016)

Comments

  1. Report this comment #67671

    Wayne McCracken said:

    "The findings could inform future searches for evidence of life on Mars"

    I would think that, of greater concern is the risk of transplanting earth life to Mars with possibly unexpected consequences.

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