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Space Bugs: Single Cell Microbes Can Thrive on Meteorites, Scientists Discover

Image credit: Reuters (Representational)

Image credit: Reuters (Representational)

Researchers are trying to understand whether a meteorite consuming chemolithotroph exists or not, and if they do, will they be able to live in space

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Single-cell microbe, Metallosphaera sedula (M. sedula), is known to survive in the harshest conditions and feed on mineral rocks. But minerally, it’s not limited to granite or chalk but rather a more exotic type of mineral—the ones that come from outer space.

Scientists have discovered that M. sedula can thrive on meteorites. As per a report by Mashable, the microbe belongs to the species Metallosphaera, which translates to ‘sphere of metal’ while sedula means busy. The report also says that the microbes work as an excellent catalyst and can fasten several reactions.

Those organisms, which can consume inorganic compound for energy are called chemolithotrophs, and the metabolism that they incur is called chemolithotrophy, the report stated.

Now, in the study, researchers are trying to understand whether a meteorite consuming chemolithotroph exists or not, and if they do, will they be able to live in space?

The researchers, in their study published in Scientific Reports, discovered that the microbe M. sedula could successfully colonise a stony meteorite, Northwest Africa 1172.

Researcher Tetyana Milojevic, from the University of Vienna, explained in a statement to Science Alert, "Our investigations validate the ability of M. sedula to perform the biotransformation of meteorite minerals, unravel microbial fingerprints left on meteorite material, and provide the next step towards an understanding of meteorite biogeochemistry."


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