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Proceedings Paper

Microbial extremophiles from the 2008 Schirmacher Oasis Expedition: preliminary results
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Paper Abstract

Among the most interesting targets for Astrobiology research are the polar ice caps and the permafrost of Mars and the ice and liquid water bodies that may lie beneath the frozen crusts of comets, the icy moons of Jupiter (Europa, Io and Ganymede) and Saturn (Titan and Enceladus). The permanently ice-covered lakes of Antarctica, such as Lake Vostok and Lake Untersee, provide some of the best terrestrial analogues for these targets. The 2008 International Tawani Schirmacher Oasis/Lake Untersee Expeditions have been organized to conduct studies of novel microbial extremophiles and investigate the biodiversity of the glaciers and ice-covered lakes of Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica. This paper describes the preliminary analysis of the anaerobic microbial extremophiles isolated from samples collected during the 2008 International Schirmacher Oasis Antarctica Reconnaissance Expedition. These samples showed great diversity of psychrophlic and psychrotolerant bacteria. Six new anaerobic strains have been isolated in pure cultures and partially characterized. Two of them (strains ARHSd-7G and ARHSd-9G) were isolated from a small tidal pool near the colony of African Penguins Spheniscus demersus. Strain ARHSd-7G was isolated on mineral anaerobic medium with 3 % NaCl, pH 7 and D-glucose, it has motile, vibrion shape cells, and is Gram variable. Strain ARHSd-9G grew on anaerobic, alkaline medium with pH 9 and 1 % NaCl at 3°C. The substrate was D-glucose supplemented with yeast extract (0.05 %). Cells of strain ARHSd-9G had morphology of straight or slightly curved elongated rods and demonstrated unusual optical effects under dark-field visible light microscopy. The cells were spore-forming and Gram positive. From the mat sample collected near Lake Zub, the new strain LZ-3 was isolated in pure culture at 3°C. Strain LZ-3 was anaerobic and grew on 0.5 % NaCl mineral medium with Dglucose as a substrate. The gram positive cells were spore-forming. They exhibited a distinctive morphology of large rods with rounded ends and size 1x10 μm. From the sample of ice sculpted by wind and melting by solar heating, containing many entrained black rocks collected near Lake Podprudnoye the new strain ISLP-22 was isolated in pure culture. The cells of this strain had vibrion shape and were spore-forming and had "baseball bat" shapes). This culture preferred 0.1 % NaCl mineral anaerobic medium and grew rapidly at 3 °C. Currently, all strains are under physiological study and phylogenetic analysis.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 September 2008
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 7097, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XI, 70970L (2 September 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.801018
Show Author Affiliations
Richard B. Hoover, National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)
Elena V. Pikuta, National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)
Alisa Townsend, Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville (United States)
Joshua Anthony, Oakwood Univ. (United States)
Melissa Guisler, Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville (United States)
Jasmine McDaniel, Oakwood Univ. (United States)
Asim Bej, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham (United States)
Michael Storrie-Lombardi, Kinohi Institute (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7097:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XI
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert Victor Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Paul C.W. Davies, Editor(s)

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