Antarctic fungi survive Martian conditions

Washington D.C, Jan 29 (ANI): The quest for life on Mars is as tantalizing as ever and now, an experiment conducted on the International Space Station has suggested that fungi and lichens may be able to survive on Mars.

European scientists have gathered tiny fungi that take shelter in Antarctic rocks and sent them to the International Space Station. After 18 months on board in conditions similar to those on Mars, more than 60 percent of their cells remained intact, with stable DNA.

The McMurdo Dry Valleys, located in the Antarctic Victoria Land, are considered to be the most similar earthly equivalent to Mars. They make up one of the driest and most hostile environments on our planet, where strong winds scour away even snow and ice. Only so-called cryptoendolithic microorganisms, capable of surviving in cracks in rocks, and certain lichens can withstand such harsh climatological conditions.

Co-researcher Rosa de la Torre Noetzel said that the results help to assess the survival ability and long-term stability of microorganisms and bioindicators on the surface of Mars, information which becomes fundamental and relevant for future experiments centred around the search for life on the red planet, states De la Torre.

The study is published in the journal Astrobiology. (ANI)

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