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Proceedings Paper

Anaerobic decomposition of cellulose by alkaliphilic microbial community of Owens Lake, California
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Paper Abstract

The study of alkaliphilic microbial communities from anaerobic sediments of Owens and Mono Lakes in California has established the presence of active microbial cellulolytic processes in both studied lakes. The prior study of the microbial diversity of anaerobes in Mono Lake showed that the trophic chain of organic decomposition includes secondary anaerobes that previously were found to be unknown species (Spirochaeta americana, Tindallia californiensis, and Desulfonatronum thiodismutans). As we published earlier, the secondary anaerobes of Owens Lake morphologically were found to be very similar to those of Mono Lake. However, detailed comparison of the physiology and genetics has led to the conclusion that some links of organic decomposition in the trophic chain of the Owens Lake community are represented by a different unknown species. A new isolate of a sugarlytics free-living spirochete from Owens Lake ASpC2, which morphologically was similar to S. americana AspG1T isolated from Mono Lake, was found to have a different metabolic capacity such as the lack of capability to produce hydrogen during the fermentation of sugars. Furthermore, from the same microbial community of Owens Lake, another sugarlytics spore-forming alkaliphilic strain SCA was isolated in pure culture and described. Here we discuss the universal structure of the microbial community, types of microbial communities, review some hypothesis about Earth's Primordial Ocean and relevant new discoveries about water on Mars. This paper also presents some of the characteristics of novel isolates from anaerobic sediments of Owens Lake as a unique relic ecosystem of Astrobiological significance, and describes the participation of these strains in the process of cellulose degradation.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 September 2005
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5906, Astrobiology and Planetary Missions, 590604 (22 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.624093
Show Author Affiliations
Elena V. Pikuta, NASA National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)
Takashi Itoh, RIKEN-The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Japan)
Richard B. Hoover, NASA National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5906:
Astrobiology and Planetary Missions
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; G. Randall Gladstone, Editor(s)

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