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Non-Psychrophilic Methanogens Capable of Growth Following Long-Term Extreme Temperature Changes, with Application to Mars

Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
American Society for Engineering Education, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Microorganisms 2018, 6(2), 34;
Received: 26 March 2018 / Revised: 13 April 2018 / Accepted: 16 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anaerobic Microorganisms in Mars)
PDF [3022 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


Although the martian environment is currently cold and dry, geomorphological features on the surface of the planet indicate relatively recent (<4 My) freeze/thaw episodes. Additionally, the recent detections of near-subsurface ice as well as hydrated salts within recurring slope lineae suggest potentially habitable micro-environments within the martian subsurface. On Earth, microbial communities are often active at sub-freezing temperatures within permafrost, especially within the active layer, which experiences large ranges in temperature. With warming global temperatures, the effect of thawing permafrost communities on the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane becomes increasingly important. Studies examining the community structure and activity of microbial permafrost communities on Earth can also be related to martian permafrost environments, should life have developed on the planet. Here, two non-psychrophilic methanogens, Methanobacterium formicicum and Methanothermobacter wolfeii, were tested for their ability to survive long-term (~4 year) exposure to freeze/thaw cycles varying in both temperature and duration, with implications both for climate change on Earth and possible life on Mars. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mars; methane; methanogens; permafrost; freeze/thaw Mars; methane; methanogens; permafrost; freeze/thaw

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Mickol, R.L.; Laird, S.K.; Kral, T.A. Non-Psychrophilic Methanogens Capable of Growth Following Long-Term Extreme Temperature Changes, with Application to Mars. Microorganisms 2018, 6, 34.

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