Navigation Links
University of Maryland School of Medicine discovers adaptations to explain strategies for survival on Mars
Date:3/11/2013

Research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine has revealed key features in proteins needed for life to function on Mars and other extreme environments. The researchers, funded by NASA, studied organisms that survive in the extreme environment of Antarctica. They found subtle but significant differences between the core proteins in ordinary organisms and Haloarchaea, organisms that can tolerate severe conditions such as high salinity, desiccation, and extreme temperatures. The research gives scientists a window into how life could possibly adapt to exist on Mars.

The study, published online in the journal PLoS One on March 11, was led by Shiladitya DasSarma, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a research scientist at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

Researchers found that Haloarchaeal microbes contain proteins that are acidic, with their surface covered with negatively charged residues. Most ordinary organisms contain proteins that are neutral on average. The negative charges found in the unusual organisms keep proteins in solution and help to hold on tightly to water, reversing the effects of high salinity and desiccation.

In the current study, the scientists identified additional subtle changes in the proteins of one Haloarchaeal species named Halorubrum lacusprofundi. These microbes were isolated from Deep Lake, a very salty lake in Antarctica. The changes found in proteins from these organisms allow them to work in both cold and salty conditions, when temperatures may be well below the freezing point of pure water. Water stays in the liquid state under these conditions much like snow and ice melt on roads that have been salted in winter.

"In such cold temperatures, the packing of atoms in proteins must be loosened slightly, allowing them to be more flexible and functional when ordinary proteins would be locked into inactive conformations" says Dr. DasSarma. "The surface of these proteins also have modifications that loosen the binding of the surrounding water molecules."

"These kinds of adaptations are likely to allow microorganisms like Halorubrum lacusprofundi to survive not only in Antarctica, but elsewhere in the universe," says Dr. DasSarma. "For example, there have been recent reports of seasonal flows down the steep sides of craters on Mars suggesting the presence of underground brine pools. Whether microorganisms actually exist in such environments is not yet known, but expeditions like NASA's Curiosity rover are currently looking for signs of life on Mars."

"Dr. DasSarma and his colleagues are unraveling the basic building blocks of life," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Their research into the fundamentals of microbiology are enhancing our understanding of life throughout the universe, and I look forward to seeing further groundbreaking discoveries from their laboratory."


'/>"/>

Contact: Karen Robinson
karobinson@som.umaryland.edu
410-706-7590
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. University of Miami geologists to address the mystery of an evolution gap in reef corals
2. University of Illinois researchers develop AFM-IR for nanometer scale chemical identification
3. University of Alberta researchers bake a better loaf of bread
4. UC Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford join forces to help commercialize university innovations
5. University of Colorado and Orphan Technologies sign agreement
6. Brown University researchers build robotic bat wing
7. Wayne State University researchers techniques enable more, faster testing of biological liquids
8. University of Arizona Engineering College pursues water technology innovation cluster
9. Brown University scientists to discuss resilience of coastal communities at AAAS
10. New Research Conducted by University Cancer Centers Links BP Refinery Incident to Increase Occurrence of Cancer in Texas City
11. University of Florida reports 2012 US shark attacks highest since 2000
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/30/2017)... -- On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com will host the world,s ... at Microsoft,s headquarters in Redmond, Washington ... health and wellness apps that provide a unique, personalized ... is the first hackathon for personal genomics and the ... the genomics, tech and health industries are sending teams ...
(Date:3/29/2017)...  higi, the health IT company that operates the ... , today announced a Series B investment from ... The new investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s strategy to ... population health activities through the collection and workflow integration ... collects and secures data today on behalf of over ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. ... have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative ... ... Maldives Immigration ... Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... Resoundant, Inc. is pleased ... centers around the U.S. that offer MR Elastography for liver fibrosis staging. ... biopsy for staging liver fibrosis assessment. , “MRE:connect was created in response to ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... ... digital pathology and artificial intelligence Tuesday, July 25, during the Association of Pathology ... Johns Hopkins Medicine. , Baras, Associate Director of Pathology Informatics, will present ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... , ... July 18, 2017 , ... ... accelerate pharmaceutical and biotherapeutics development, announces the launch of a new NTA biosensor ... chip enables researchers to study the kinetics of polyhistidine-tagged (His-tagged) molecules quickly and ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... ... Blood centers traditionally see a dangerous drop of blood donations during the ... community blood centers as high schools are out and many frequent donors are on ... up with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC), a subsidiary ...
Breaking Biology Technology: