Microorganisms in Atacama are reactivated with sporadic increases in humidity

An international team, with the participation of the Center for Astrobiology (CSIC-INTA), has revealed the presence of inactive microorganisms that are reactivated and reproduced when there are exceptional episodes of humidity in one of the most arid areas of the Earth, the Atacama desert, in Chile, considered one of the terrestrial analogues of Mars.

The study, published in the journal PNAS ( Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences) and in which CAB researchers Víctor Parro and Daniel Carrizo are co-authors, points out that after a sporadic episode of rain registered in the Atacama desert in 2015, a series of microorganisms, which were inactive at that time, were reactivated and began to reproduce thanks to humidity. Subsequent analyzes show that this reactivation is progressively decreasing as humidity does as well.

The results of this study open a new and interesting window to the possibility that on Mars there are inactive microorganisms, waiting to have the necessary humidity conditions to reactivate again, something plausible if we bear in mind that the Planet Red had a climate possibly temperate and humid in its first billions of years, in which it even had lakes and oceans on its surface.

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Figure: image of the Atacama desert, Chile. © 2009 Brandt Maxwell

 

Fuente: UCC-CAB

 

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