Cyanobacteria have learned to extract water from gypsum

In extreme droughts cyanobacteria capable of removing water from a gypsum — core rock of most deserts on Earth. According to the study, the results of which are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these microbes form colonies inside the plaster, releasing the organic acid and dissolving it. They absorb the released water and the gypsum passes into the anhydrous phase anhydrite. Scientists suggest that the new data will help assess the possibility of life on Mars

Access to water is a prerequisite of life on our planet. Living organisms have adaptations for efficient search, thorough extraction and formation of internal reserves, but are unable to adapt to its complete absence. It is therefore of great interest to life history strategy in the hot deserts where water in any form is virtually absent.

The Atacama is one of the most arid deserts of Earth, which is used by scientists as one of the test systems to simulate the conditions of Mars and explore the possibility of life on it. In the soil samples and rocks of the Atacama was discovered a significant diversity of microorganisms: cyanobacteria, actinomycetes, chloroflexi and proteobacteria, however, the mechanisms by which they are able to extract water from dry rock, long remained unknown.

Huang Wei (Wei Huang) at the University of California at riverside and his colleagues examined samples of gypsum rocks, taken in the Atacama desert. Using computed tomography, they found analiticheskie colonies of cyanobacteria inside the plaster.

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