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Proceedings Paper

Astrobiological significance of chemolithoautotrophic acidophiles
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Paper Abstract

For more than a century (since Winogradsky discovered lithautotrophic bacteria) there has been a dilemma in microbiology about life that first inhabited the Earth. Which types of life forms first appeared in the primordial oceans during the earliest geological period on Earth as the primary ancestors of modern biological diversity? How did a metabolism of ancestors evolve: from lithoautotrophic to lithoheterotrophic and organoheterotrophic or from organoheterotrophic to organautotrophic and lithomixotrophic types? At the present time, it is known that chemolithoheterotrophic and chemolithoautotrophic metabolizing bacteria are wide spread in different ecosystems. On Earth the acidic ecosystems are associated with geysers, volcanic fumaroles, hot springs, deep sea hydrothermal vents, caves, acid mine drainage and other technogenic ecosystems. Bioleaching played a significant roel on a global geological scale during the Earth's formation. This important feature of bacteria has been successfully applied in industry. The lithoautotrophs include Bacteria and Archaea belonging to diverse genera containing thermophilic and mesophilic species. In this paper we discuss the lithotrophic microbial acidophiles and present some data with a description of new acidophilic iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacterium isolated from the Chena Hot Springs in Alaska. We also consider the possible relevance of microbial acidophiles to Venus, Io, and acidic inclusions in glaciers and icy moons.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 February 2004
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5163, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology VII, (10 February 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.513419
Show Author Affiliations
Elena V. Pikuta, NASA National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)
Richard B. Hoover, NASA National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5163:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology VII
Richard B. Hoover; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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