Desert-dwelling bacteria offer clues to habitability on Mars, Astrobiology Magazine, 1 March 2018

Astrobiology Magazine published an article on the research by Divisional Director and Professor of Science (Environmental Studies) Steven Pointing, which looks into how microbial life on Mars may live. Professor Pointing shared that the research begins with identifying organisms that live in similar environments on Earth, and that one of the best analogs is the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica which, like the surface of Mars, is an extreme, cold desert. Professor Pointing and his research team published a paper in the journal Frontiers of Microbiology, where they sampled microbes known as hypolithic cyanobacteria, which are found underneath quartz rocks in Earth’s deserts, to find out more about how they survive in such inhospitable places. An understanding of this would help researchers in their the search for life on Mars. Professor Pointing and his team intend to sequence the full genome of these cyanobacteria communities to shed light on the unique genes that enable them to survive in such extreme environments.

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