Detect the presence of viable cyanobacteria in the deep subsoil of Río Tinto


A study led by the Center for Astrobiology (CSIC-INTA) has detected for the first time the presence of live cyanobacteria in the deep subsoil (more than 600 meters deep) of the rocky massif of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (Rio Tinto, Huelva). This area of ​​southern Spain is considered by astrobiology as a terrestrial analog of Mars.

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic microorganisms very versatile that inhabit most environments, from marine systems to extremely arid deserts. Until now, its ecological range seemed to be restricted to environments with at least occasional presence of sunlight.

In this study we present molecular, microscopic and metagenomic evidences of the predominance of these microorganisms in the subsoil of Río Tinto. The analyzed samples were obtained by carrying out two pergforaciones within the project IPBSL (Iberian Pyrite Belt Subsurface Life, underground life in the Iberian Pyrite Belt), carried out by the CAB between 2010 and 2015.

The results of the study highlight the great versatility of cyanobacteria, one of the oldest microorganisms on our planet; and allow us to propose new models about their origin and evolution, as well as the presence of similar organisms in current or primitive biospheres in other planets or moons.

Figure: image of the IPBSL project drilling zone. Two boreholes were made very close to the source of the river, in different locations in the area of ​​Peña del Hierro, in the grounds of the Riotinto Foundation. The depths reached were 339 and 612 meters, respectively. © CAB


Fuente: UCC-CAB

Fecha: 2018-10-02


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