Event Title

Great Salt Lake Halophilic Archaea: A Model for Mineral Entrapment of Life

Start Date

5-6-2019 10:15 AM

Description

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, found veins of gypsum and layer of salt deposited by water in 2011(Figure 7). Gypsum has been detected on Mars as early as 2005 by the ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter, which later found evidence of chloride salts in 2008. On Earth, gypsum is formed in hypersaline environments, in minerals left behind when water evaporates. During evaporation, gypsum deposits and salt crystals can trap microorganisms in fluid inclusions. Gypsum obtained from Great Salt Lake, along with salt crystals collected from the salt glands of pelicans, were used to develop a method to extract halophilic archaea and culture it in the lab. Our studies show that gypsum was difficult to dissolve in aqueous microbiological media. Various methods of dissolution involving mechanical crushing and different solvents including microbiological media were tested. We also employed a variety of cultivation methods. We will present data on best practices for obtaining halophilic microorganisms from gypsum and salt crystal samples. The method obtained could be used to isolate potential microorganisms present in these minerals from Mars.

Comments

Poster Session

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May 6th, 10:15 AM

Great Salt Lake Halophilic Archaea: A Model for Mineral Entrapment of Life

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, found veins of gypsum and layer of salt deposited by water in 2011(Figure 7). Gypsum has been detected on Mars as early as 2005 by the ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter, which later found evidence of chloride salts in 2008. On Earth, gypsum is formed in hypersaline environments, in minerals left behind when water evaporates. During evaporation, gypsum deposits and salt crystals can trap microorganisms in fluid inclusions. Gypsum obtained from Great Salt Lake, along with salt crystals collected from the salt glands of pelicans, were used to develop a method to extract halophilic archaea and culture it in the lab. Our studies show that gypsum was difficult to dissolve in aqueous microbiological media. Various methods of dissolution involving mechanical crushing and different solvents including microbiological media were tested. We also employed a variety of cultivation methods. We will present data on best practices for obtaining halophilic microorganisms from gypsum and salt crystal samples. The method obtained could be used to isolate potential microorganisms present in these minerals from Mars.