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Life 2015, 5(4), 1652-1686; doi:10.3390/life5041652

Assessing the Ecophysiology of Methanogens in the Context of Recent Astrobiological and Planetological Studies

1
Research Platform: ExoLife, University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstraße 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
2
Institute of Astrophysics, University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstraße 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
3
Archaea Biology and Ecogenomics Division, Department of Ecogenomics and Systems Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Hans-Peter Klenk, Michael W. W. Adams and Roger A. Garrett
Received: 8 May 2015 / Revised: 15 October 2015 / Accepted: 10 November 2015 / Published: 3 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaea: Evolution, Physiology, and Molecular Biology)
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Abstract

Among all known microbes capable of thriving under extreme and, therefore, potentially extraterrestrial environmental conditions, methanogens from the domain Archaea are intriguing organisms. This is due to their broad metabolic versatility, enormous diversity, and ability to grow under extreme environmental conditions. Several studies revealed that growth conditions of methanogens are compatible with environmental conditions on extraterrestrial bodies throughout the Solar System. Hence, life in the Solar System might not be limited to the classical habitable zone. In this contribution we assess the main ecophysiological characteristics of methanogens and compare these to the environmental conditions of putative habitats in the Solar System, in particular Mars and icy moons. Eventually, we give an outlook on the feasibility and the necessity of future astrobiological studies concerning methanogens. View Full-Text
Keywords: Archaea; extremophiles; metabolism; Solar System; methanogenesis; space; microorganism; Mars; Earth; icy moons Archaea; extremophiles; metabolism; Solar System; methanogenesis; space; microorganism; Mars; Earth; icy moons
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Taubner, R.-S.; Schleper, C.; Firneis, M.G.; Rittmann, S.K.-M. Assessing the Ecophysiology of Methanogens in the Context of Recent Astrobiological and Planetological Studies. Life 2015, 5, 1652-1686.

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