Strange Bacteria Could Help Humans Breathe On Mars

Posted: Jun 17 2018, 6:12pm CDT | by , Updated: Jun 18 2018, 1:49am CDT, in Latest Science News


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Strange Bacteria could Help Humans Breathe on Mars
Credit: NASA

Understanding these tough bacteria could pave the way for further exploration on Mars

Organisms that thrive in some of the most extreme environments on Earth could help humans colonize Mars and find traces of life in outer space.

Living in inhospitable and low-light conditions, cyanobacteria are among the largest groups of bacteria on Earth. These organisms have been around for more than 2.5 billion years. Certain cyanobacteria exist in places like Antarctica and the Mojave Desert. The harsh conditions where they live are similar to those found on Mars and other planets. By furthering our understanding of how these bacteria survive in extreme conditions, researchers will better understand alien life. In fact, they can use them to colonize Mars because cyanobacteria produce oxygen and can create an atmosphere.

“This might sound like science fiction, but space agencies and private companies around the world are actively trying to turn this aspiration into reality in the not-too-distant future,” said Professor Elmars Krausz from The Australian National University (ANU).

“Low-light adapted organisms, such as the cyanobacteria we’ve been studying, can grow under rocks and potentially survive the harsh conditions on the red planet.”

Cyanobacteria are single-cell organisms that absorb energy from light and produce oxygen. But they use a significantly different mechanism of photosynthesis. With this unusual form of photosynthesis, cyanobacteria could create air for humans to breathe on Mars.

“Chlorophyll adapted to absorb visible light is very important in photosynthesis for most plants, but our research identifies the so-called ‘red’ chlorophylls as critical components in photosynthesis in low-light conditions,” said co-author of the study Jennifer Morton. “This work redefines the minimum energy needed in light to drive photosynthesis.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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