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Research Infrastructure Development

Extremophiles from the Land Down Under What are the limits to life on Earth? Answers to this question sought by Dr. Melanie Mormile and her team from the Missouri University of Science and Technology can help to guide people on the quest to determine if there is life elsewhere in our Solar System and beyond. For example, there is good evidence that Mars once had bodies of water that were acidic and salty. Thus far, there have been very few haloacidophilic bacteria described and no bacteria identified that can grow at high salinity and pH values below 4. If bacteria were isolated and characterized that could grow under these conditions, they can be of help to determine if there was previous life on Mars. The microbial communities in acidic saline lakes in Australia are being studied to provide this information. Water, sediment, and salt samples from four lakes, with pH values below 3.0, salt concentrations at saturation, and high metal content, were sampled. DNA is being extracted from these samples. The extracted DNA will be used for metagenomic analysis. The metagenomic data will provide information on the microbial communities present in the lakes. Attempts are also being made to isolate and characterize organisms that can grow with complex carbon sources from sediment samples taken from each of the lakes. This work is being supported by NASA Missouri EPSCoR in an ongoing Research Infrastructure Development grant in 2015.

www.nasa.gov/epscor/stimuli

Researchers studying microbial communities in acidic saline lakes in Australia; understanding the possibilities of life in harsh environments on other planets.

NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15

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EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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