Caister Academic Press

CIMB Abstract

Curr. Issues Mol. Biol. (2020) 38: 163-196.

Exploring Microbial Activity in Low-pressure Environments

Petra Schwendner and Andrew C. Schuerger

The importance of hypopiezophilic and hypopiezotolerant microorganisms (i.e., life that grows at low atmospheric pressures; see section 2) in the field of astrobiology cannot be overstated. The ability to reproduce and thrive at Martian atmospheric pressure (0.2 to 1.2 kPa) is of high importance to both modeling the forward contamination of its planetary surface and predicting the habitability of Mars. On Earth, microbial growth at low pressure also has implications for the dissemination of microorganisms within clouds or the bulk atmosphere. Yet our ability to understand the effect of low pressure on microbial metabolism, growth, cellular structure and integrity, and adaptation is still limited. We present current knowledge on hypopiezophilic and hypopiezotolerant microorganisms, methods for isolation and cultivation, justify why there should be more focus for future research, and discuss their importance for astrobiology.

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