An international team of scientists has found something new on the Martian surface, and this time it is from the world of microbes. Yes! The researchers have detected the presence of strange bacterial colonies harboring over the Martian surface. These bacteria possess the caliber to convert light energy into fuel. Guess what? These bacteria accomplish all these activities in the presence of extremely dark environment.
The researchers in a press release statement said, “Similar bacteria could someday help humans colonize Mars and expand our search for life on other planets.”
Cyanobacteria absorb the sunlight and convert it into the usable form of energy. In the entire conversion process, oxygen is given out. Until now, it was believed that these cyanobacteria were capable of absorbing the lights of higher energy wavelengths. The Chroococcidiopsis thermal is one species of cyanobacteria thriving in most extreme environments across the globe. This species of cyanobacteria are capable of absorbing redder wavelengths of light. The redder wavelengths of light are less energetic. This activity of cyanobacterial species is meant for its survival in dark conditions.
Jennifer Mortan conveys, “This work redefines the minimum energy needed in light to drive photosynthesis. This type of photosynthesis may well be happening in your garden, under a rock.” Jennifer Morton is a researcher at the Australian National University. Jennifer is also the co-author of The New York.
The researchers are focusing on the physical mechanism behind the redder wavelength absorption phenomenon by these cyanobacterial species. This research will further unveil the mechanism of photosynthesis. Also, it will throw light on the use of low-light organisms for generation of oxygen in places like the Martian environment.
Elmars Krausz concludes, “This might sound like science fiction, but space agencies and private companies around the world are actively trying to turn this aspiration into reality in the not-too-distant future. Photosynthesis could theoretically be harnessed with these types of organisms to create air for humans to breathe on Mars. Low-light-adapted organisms, such as the cyanobacteria we’ve been studying, can grow under rocks and potentially survive the harsh conditions on the Red Planet.” Elmars Krausz is a co-author of the research and an emeritus professor at the Australian National University.