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New Insights Into Microbial Ecology Including Early Microbial Survival


Experiments with mutant microbes testing space radiation resistance throw new light on microbial ecology including early microbial survival

Early Earth lacked an ozone layer to act as a shield against high-energy solar radiation, but microbes flourished by adapting to or finding other forms of protection from the higher ultraviolet radiation levels. Now researchers have begun testing modern microbes to see if they could act as pioneers in the harsh conditions of extraterrestrial space and other planetary environments.

The experiments have offered a wealth of insights into microbial ecology: for instance, they have shown that a single organism is actively capable of reacting and adapting to changes in its environment. That adaptation to radiation hints at how some microbes might have survived a journey to Earth aboard ancient asteroids, according to the theory known as Panspermia. Similarly, the adaptive ability indicates how Earth microbes might be able to colonize harsher extraterrestrial environments such as Mars, although even the most radiation-resistant bacteria would face other challenges if they tried to survive beyond Earth.

Read more about these inferences from experiments with mutant microbes in space at