Several years ago, scientists from the University of New South Wales (Australia) discovered a bacterium in Antarctica that requires only air to survive. Now they have managed to find new habitats for such organisms.
Every living being must receive energy from somewhere for its existence. For animals, this is meat or plant biomass, for plants - sunlight, for bacteria - any combination of these options, or the processing of inorganic compounds in the soil. Bacteria found in Antarctica extract hydrogen, carbon dioxide and CO (carbon monoxide) directly from the surrounding air. This allows them to thrive in conditions that are completely unacceptable for any other organism. This type of nutrition is called atmospheric chemosynthesis.
Now scientists have found two more chemosynthetic species, which are abundantly represented in two regions similar in terms of conditions - in the Arctic and on the Tibetan plateau. The researchers took 122 soil samples from 14 sites in all three zones listed above, isolated cumulative DNA from them and carried out its sequencing. They found that two types of bacteria were present in all 122 samples.
This discovery has two important implications. First, it is likely that scientists have discovered a previously unknown factor in maintaining the carbon balance on our planet. And secondly, it means that living organisms on other planets can survive in much harsher conditions than previously thought. And we will soon be able to make sure of this. NASA's latest mission with the Perseverance rover is currently on its way to the Red Planet, where the rover will analyze the soil in order to find ancient microbial life.