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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Research suggests Earth microbes could survive on Mars

•, By David Szondy
However, it’s not impossible. Rebecca Mickol, a doctoral student in space and planetary sciences at the University of Arkansas, has discovered that two species of methane-producing bacteria can live in the harsh conditions on Mars, and may aid in the search for life there.

The two bacteria in question are called Methanothermobacter wolfeii and Methanobacterium formicicum. These are examples of methanogens, which are among the most ancient forms of life on Earth. The name of the genus may sound exotic, but they're so common that species are found in cow guts, termites, and in any bog where vegetation is rotting and bubbling up swamp gas. That’s because methanogens are an anaerobic bacteria that don’t breathe oxygen. In fact, oxygen is lethal to them. Instead, they ingest hydrogen and carbon dioxide and give off methane gas. In other words, they’re the reason cows fart.

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