Can methane oxidizing bacteria survive on Mars?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A new paper in Astrobiology, co-authored by ERG member Philippe Van Cappellen and colleagues from Nara’s Women University in Japan, explores the possibility that aerobic methanotrophic microorganisms similar to those found on Earth may be surviving and growing under conditions of Martian surface temperature, pressure, and atmospheric composition. The approach consists of comparing the amount of energy that the microbes should be able to generate by oxidizing methane to the minimum energy production required to support their basic cellular maintenance requirements. The results imply that while theoretically the methanotrophs should be able to maintain their vital functions, they are unlikely to constitute prolific members of hypothetical Martian soil communities.

The full paper is available at: http://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2018.1943

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