On Earth, these microorganisms use carbon dioxide and molecular hydrogen as food.
Austrian microbiologists have found that some earthly bacteria could survive in under-ice ocean on Enceladus, a moon of Saturn.
The research team, headed by Simon Rittmann from the University of Vienna, came to the conclusion that certain types of terrestrial microbes are able to multiply in conditions of Enceladus.
In the experiment used three types of archaea: Methanothermococcus okinawensis, Methanococcus and Methanothermobacter marburgensis villosus, which was placed in the conditions similar to those likely to exist on Enceladus. On Earth, these microorganisms use carbon dioxide and molecular hydrogen as food, releasing methane as a by-product.
In particular, the organisms were placed in a mixture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrogen and in some cases ethylene. Pressure ranged from 2 to 90 bar and the temperature from 65 to 80 degrees Celsius (so she could be closer to areas of hydrothermal activity on the satellite).
To make life more difficult for archaea, a team of Rittman also subjected them to the effects of certain harmful compounds, which could exist on Enceladus, and which are known to inhibit the growth, such as formaldehyde, ammonia and carbon monoxide. Germs just get rid of these chemicals and continue to prosper.
“This is the first interdisciplinary study of the microbe from Earth that could produce methane in the conditions of Enceladus. We were able to show that in the foreseeable conditions of Enceladus, and the data of environmental parameters in the laboratory was biological methane production and that the microorganism of the hydrothermal system on Earth can grow in the presence of presumed inhibitory substances-inhibitors in combination with high pressure,” said Simon, Rittmann.
At the same time, according to other scholars, one of the weaknesses of the new study is that the acidity of the medium used in the experiment was below the range of that recorded on Enceladus the Cassini spacecraft.
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