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Origins 2011 – Abstracts

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O2a: Contributed Orals – Biosignatures and Clues of Life
Time: Monday, 04/Jul/2011: 3:15pm - 4:00pm
Session Chair: Barbara Sherwood Lollar
Location: Auditorium Pasteur


Detection of peptidic sequences in the ancient acidic sediments of Río Tinto, Spain

María Colín García1,2,3, Basem Kanawati4, Mourad Harir4, Phillippe Schmitt-Kopplin4, Ricardo Amils1,5, Victor Parro1, Miriam García1, David Fernández-Remolar1

1Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC/INTA), Spain; 2Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; 3Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; 4Department of BioGeoChemistry and Analytics, Institute of Ecological Chemistry, Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany;; 5Departamento de Biología Molecular, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Madrid, Spain

Biomarkers are molecules produced by or associated to biological activities. All biomolecules might be molecular fossils but very few survive diagenetic transformations. Here we report the presence of short-chained peptides obtained from extracts of ferruginous sedimentary deposits produced under the acidic-oxidizing solutions of Río Tinto, Spain. These results go against the paradigmatic idea that considers very extreme environments unappropriated for the preservation of molecular information.

Experimental fossilisation of viruses from extremophilic Archaea

François Orange1, Annie Chabin1, Aurore Gorlas2, Soizick Lucas-Staat3, Claire Geslin2, Marc Le Romancier2, David Prangishvili3, Patrick Forterre3, Frances Westall1

1Centre de Biophysique CNRS-OSUC, Orléans France; 2Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Plouzané, France; 3Molecular Biology of the Gene in Extremophiles Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

This study presents the results of the first experimental fossilisation of viruses from extremophilic Archaea. Three viruses from hyperthermophilic Archaea were successfully fossilised and preserved over several months. The results suggest that viral remains could be preserved in the rock record, although their identification may be challenging due to their small size.

Sampling Extreme Life in the Desert: Geochemical Habitats and Biodiversity

Bernard Foing1,2,8, Carole Stoker3, Pascale Ehrenfreund4,5, Zita Martins6, Susana Direito2, Luisa Rodrigues2, Wilfred Roeling2, Gareth Davies2, Cora Thiel7,8, Damien Loizeau1, David Blake3, Michelle Kotler4, Grazyna Orzechowska10, Richard Kidd10, Jon Clark11, Vladimir Pletser1, Anouk Borst2,8, Stefan Peters2, Lorenz Wendt12, Christoph Gross12, Mary Beth Wilhelm3,13, EuroGeoMars Team1,3,8, DOMMEX-EuroMoonMars Team3,8,9

1ESA/ESTEC postbus 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, NL; 2Faculty of Earth & Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL; 3NASA Ames Research Centre, CA, US; 4Leiden Institute of Chemistry, NL; 5Space Policy Institute, George Washington University, US; 6Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London UK; 7Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics, University of Muenster, Germany; 8ILEWG; 9Ecole de l’Air, Salon-de-Provence, F; 10Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CalTech, Pasadena, US; 11Geoscience Australia, AU; 12FU Berlin, D; 13Cornell University, US

We have performed field campaigns in the Utah desert at sites analogues to Mars including fluvial sandstone and clays; carbonaceous pyritic units; paleochannels; concretions & endoliths. We find high mineral and biodiversity of soil samples, low abundances of PAHs and amino acids and the presence of biota of all three domains of life with significant heterogeneity. References in “Astrobiology field Research in Moon/Mars Analogue Environments”, (Foing, Stoker & Ehrenfreund, Editors), IJA, 10 articles.