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Gomez J.M.G.,Laboratory of BioMineralogy and Astrobiological Research LBMARS | Gomez J.M.G.,OAS BioAstronomy Group | Medina J.,Laboratory of BioMineralogy and Astrobiological Research LBMARS | Hochberg D.,Laboratory of BioMineralogy and Astrobiological Research LBMARS | And 7 more authors.
Astrobiology | Year: 2014

Water is the fundamental molecule for life on Earth. Thus, the search for hibernating life-forms in waterless environments is an important research topic for astrobiology. To date, however, the organizational patterns containing microbial life in extremely dry places, such as the deserts of Earth, the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, or Mars analog regolith, have been poorly characterized. Here, we report on the formation of bacterial biosaline self-organized drying patterns formed over plastic surfaces. These emerge during the evaporation of sessile droplets of aqueous NaCl salt 0.15 M solutions containing Escherichia coli cells. In the present study, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) analyses indicated that the bacterial cells and the NaCl in these biosaline formations are organized in a two-layered characteristic 3-D architectural morphology. A thin filmlike top layer formed by NaCl conjugated to, and intermingled with, "mineralized" bacterial cells covers a bottom layer constructed by the bulk of the nonmineralized bacterial cells; both layers have the same morphological pattern. In addition, optical microscopic time-lapsed movies show that the formation of these patterns is a kinetically fast process that requires the coupled interaction between the salt and the bacterial cells. Apparently, this mutual interaction drives the generative process of self-assembly that underlies the drying pattern formation. Most notably, the bacterial cells inside these drying self-assembled patterns enter into a quiescent suspended anhydrobiotic state resistant to complete desiccation and capable of vital reanimation upon rehydration. We propose that these E. coli biosaline drying patterns represent an excellent experimental model for understanding different aspects of anhydrobiosis phenomena in bacteria as well as for revealing the mechanisms of bacterially induced biomineralization, both highly relevant topics for the search of life in extraterrestrial locations. © Copyright 2014, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2014.


Gomez J.M.G.,Laboratory of BioMineralogy and Astrobiological Research LBMARS | Gomez J.M.G.,OAS BioAstronomy Group | Medina J.,Laboratory of BioMineralogy and Astrobiological Research LBMARS | Rull F.,Laboratory of BioMineralogy and Astrobiological Research LBMARS
Astrobiology | Year: 2016

Biosaline formations (BSFs) are complex self-organized biomineral patterns formed by "hibernating" bacteria as the biofilm that contains them dries out. They were initially described in drying biofilms of Escherichia coli cells + NaCl. Due to their intricate 3-D morphology and anhydrobiosis, these biomineralogical structures are of great interest in astrobiology. Here we report experimental data obtained with various alkali halide salts (NaF, NaCl, NaBr, LiCl, KCl, CsCl) on BSF formation with E. coli and Bacillus subtilis bacteria at two saline concentrations: 9 and 18 mg/mL. Our results indicate that, except for LiCl, which is inactive, all the salts assayed are active during BSF formation and capable of promoting the generation of distinctive drying patterns at each salt concentration. Remarkably, the BSFs produced by these two bacterial species produce characteristic architectural hallmarks as the BSF dries. The potential biogenicity of these biosaline drying patterns is studied, and the astrobiological implications of these findings are discussed. © Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016.

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