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Lack of Microbial Diversity in an Extreme Mars Analog Setting: Poas Volcano, Costa Rica.


ABSTRACT: The Poás volcano in Costa Rica has been studied as a Mars geochemical analog environment, since both the style of hydrothermal alteration present and the alteration mineralogy are consistent with Mars' relict hydrothermal systems. The site hosts an active volcano, with high-temperature fumaroles (up to 980°C) and an ultra-acidic lake. This lake, Laguna Caliente, is one of the most dynamic environments on Earth, with frequent phreatic eruptions, temperatures ranging from near-ambient to almost boiling, a pH range of -1 to 1.5, and a wide range of chemistries and redox potential. Martian acid-sulfate hydrothermal systems were likely similarly dynamic and equally challenging to life. The microbiology existing within Laguna Caliente was characterized for the first time, with sampling taking place in November, 2013. The diversity of the microbial community was surveyed via extraction of environmental DNA from fluid and sediment samples followed by Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. The microbial diversity was limited to a single species of the bacterial genus Acidiphilium. This organism likely gets its energy from oxidation of reduced sulfur in the lake, including elemental sulfur. Given Mars' propensity for sulfur and acid-sulfate environments, this type of organism is of significant interest to the search for past or present life on the Red Planet. Key Words: Mars astrobiology-Acid-sulfate hydrothermal systems-Extremophiles-Acidic-High temperature-Acidiphilium bacteria. Astrobiology 18, 923-933.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6067093 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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