Endoglacial microorganisms are alive and metabolically functional

2019-08-21

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A scientific team, led by researchers at the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB, CSIC-INTA), has studied the microorganisms that inhabit the Antarctic endoglacial system, regarded as analogous to the icy environments of the Solar System.
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Glaciers have long been considered uninhabited places. However, they are now recognized as authentic biomes populated by various microorganisms, such as bacteria, archaea and microeukaryokaras. These organisms live under very extreme conditions, such as low temperatures, high solar radiation or scarcity of liquid water and nutrients.

The glacial surface, sunny and oxygenated, constitutes a supraglacial ecosystem occupied predominantly by photoautotroph microorganisms. The base of the glacier, in contact with the underlying rocks, constitutes a subglacial ecosystem in which chemoautotrophos microorganisms feed on the mineral salts of rocks and soil. But between these two ecosystems, there is an inhospitable and unknown endoglacial zone that raises various questions, such as which microorganisms inhabit the endoglacial system, are they alive or quiescent?, are they metabolically active?, etc.

All of these issues and a few more are addressed in a recent paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.

 

Fuente: UCC-CAB y Cristina Cid, investigadora del CAB

Fecha: 2019-08-21

 

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