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Meteorite is a "better diet"

Archaeon Metallosphaera sedula can absorb and process alien material. This is demonstrated by an international team led by astrobiologist Tetyana Milojevic, who studies fingerprints of germs on a meteorite rock. The researchers also conclude that M. sedula inhabits meteorite rocks faster than those of terrestrial origin. The results appear in Scientific Reports.

Chemolithotrophic microorganisms draw their energy from inorganic sources. The study of the physiological processes of these organisms – which are grown on meteorite rocks – provides new insights into the potential of alien materials as a potential source of nutrients and energy for early terrestrial microorganisms. Meteorites provided various essential links that triggered the evolution of life as we know it on Earth.

An international team of astrobiologists Tetyana Milojevic from the University of Vienna examined the physiology and metal microbial interface of the extremely metalophilic archaeon Metallosphaera sedula, which inhabits and interacts with extraterrestrial materials – in this case the Northwest Africa meteorite 1172. Swallowing M. sedula is a valuable source of information for exploration beyond bioinorganic chemistry that could occur in the solar system.

Archeon prefers meteorite rock
M. sedula cells are able to colonize the meteorite faster than rocks of terrestrial origin. "Meteoritic fitness appears to be more beneficial to this ancient microorganism than to terrestrial mineral diets. Northwest Africa Meteorite 1172 may contain much more trace metals than terrestrial materials, thus increasing the metabolic activity and microbial growth of M. sedula at higher levels. meteorites could also explain the superior growth rate of M. sedul, "says Tetyana Milojevic.

Nanometer-scale tests
Scientists have monitored the transport of inorganic meteorite constituents into a microbial cell and investigated the chemistry of the reducing beam. They analyzed the interface of meteorites and microbes with spatial resolution in the nanometer range. The combination of various analytical spectroscopy techniques with transmission electron microscopy made it possible to detect biogeochemical fingerprints left by the growth of M. sedula on alien rocks. "Our research confirms M. sedul's ability to biotransform meteorite minerals, deciphering the fingerprints of microbes on meteorite material, and provides the next step towards a deeper understanding of meteorite biogeochemistry," concludes Milojevic.

Publication in "Scientific Reports"
Tetyana Milojevic, Denise K├Âlbl, Ludovic Ferriere, Mihaela Albu, Adrienne Kish, Roberta Flemming, Christian Koeberl, Amir Blazevic, Ziga Zebec, Simon Rittmann, Christa Schleper, Marc Pignitter, Veronika Somoza, Mario Schimak and Alexandra Ruperting (2019) of the material in the nanometer scale. Sci. Tail.
DOI 10.1038 / s41598-019-54482-7