A team of researchers in the Canadian Arctic is reporting on an interesting find: bacteria that thrive at –15 degrees Celsius. That is the coldest environment bacteria have ever been found to grow in.
The McGill University researchers traveled to Ellesmere Island in (far, far) north Canada. There they collected and later cultured about 200 microbes, putting the organisms in a simulation of their native environment to find the one best-suited for living in extreme conditions. The winner ended up being a strain of Planococcus halocryophilus, which made its home in tiny veins of salty water in the Arctic permafrost. The researchers have reported that the bacteria can grow in those harsh conditions, and survive at temperatures down to –25 degrees Celsius.
The fact that the bacteria can survive at those temperatures is cool alone, but it also has implications for the search for bacteria (living or gone) on Mars and Saturn's moon Enceladus. Both Mars and Enceladus may have salty, super-cold places similar to the places where this bacteria made its home. (That, in general, is a big reason so many scientists are interested in digging for completely new, "alien" species in the Arctic.)
So what makes this bacterium so tough? The team examined its genome and cellular structure to find out, and determined it had an abnormal amount of cold-resistant proteins and especially well-adapted membranes.
Just a clarification of the poor wording of this article:
The bacteria were found to be capable of reproducing at -15C. Saying they grow at this temperature is technically correct as one point of the growth cycle is division, but slightly understates the fact that they are fully capable of reproduction and continuation of their lineage at that temperature, not just individual growth.
As well, the line "survive at temperatures down to –25 degrees Celsius." isn't worded well. Many bacteria can survive much colder, even the coldness of space. What makes these bacteria unique is that they were found to be biologically active at -25C.
In addition, the solution they were grown in was 18% salt, which is amazingly high.
When do we test this bacteria on Mars to be sure?
I see life everywhere, on all scales, in all times. The current definition of life is limited to carbon-based biology, where the structures and recurrences of life exist omnipresently. All is life.
Thanks for the clarification tertertert.
It was very helpful.
So there is hope to put life on mars. Not that there is life on mars.
To have hope of life anywhere but earth. You either 1. need a worldview that has agents putting life elsewhere, or 2. Need to overcome all the evidence and so-far failed models of abiogenesis.
In the words of some song i heard before, if there is no other life out there other than us, it would be a "tremendous waste of space."
Only depending on your worldview.
There is an impossible amount of life and variety of life on planet Earth and there is zero, none, no life any where else in the whole cosmos.
But if life was somewhere else in vast cosmos, it would only preciously seed and plant itself on planet Earth.
Well, perhaps at this moment time there is no life on Mars, which I doubt, but there is in most likely life some where's else in our solar system.