Aeolian transport of viable microbial life across the Atacama Desert, Chile

Implications for Mars

Armando Azua-Bustos, Carlos González-Silva, Miguel Ángel Fernández-Martínez, Cristián Arenas-Fajardo, Ricardo Fonseca, Javier Martin-Torres, Maite Fernández-Sampedro, Alberto G. Fairén, María Paz Zorzano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Here we inspect whether microbial life may disperse using dust transported by wind in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, a well-known Mars analog model. By setting a simple experiment across the hyperarid core of the Atacama we found that a number of viable bacteria and fungi are in fact able to traverse the driest and most UV irradiated desert on Earth unscathed using wind-transported dust, particularly in the later afternoon hours. This finding suggests that microbial life on Mars, extant or past, may have similarly benefited from aeolian transport to move across the planet and find suitable habitats to thrive and evolve.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11024
JournalScientific reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019

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Mars
Chile
Dust
Planets
Ecosystem
Fungi
Bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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Azua-Bustos, A., González-Silva, C., Fernández-Martínez, M. Á., Arenas-Fajardo, C., Fonseca, R., Martin-Torres, J., ... Zorzano, M. P. (2019). Aeolian transport of viable microbial life across the Atacama Desert, Chile: Implications for Mars. Scientific reports, 9(1), [11024]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47394-z

Aeolian transport of viable microbial life across the Atacama Desert, Chile : Implications for Mars. / Azua-Bustos, Armando; González-Silva, Carlos; Fernández-Martínez, Miguel Ángel; Arenas-Fajardo, Cristián; Fonseca, Ricardo; Martin-Torres, Javier; Fernández-Sampedro, Maite; Fairén, Alberto G.; Zorzano, María Paz.

In: Scientific reports, Vol. 9, No. 1, 11024, 01.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Azua-Bustos, A, González-Silva, C, Fernández-Martínez, MÁ, Arenas-Fajardo, C, Fonseca, R, Martin-Torres, J, Fernández-Sampedro, M, Fairén, AG & Zorzano, MP 2019, 'Aeolian transport of viable microbial life across the Atacama Desert, Chile: Implications for Mars', Scientific reports, vol. 9, no. 1, 11024. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47394-z
Azua-Bustos A, González-Silva C, Fernández-Martínez MÁ, Arenas-Fajardo C, Fonseca R, Martin-Torres J et al. Aeolian transport of viable microbial life across the Atacama Desert, Chile: Implications for Mars. Scientific reports. 2019 Dec 1;9(1). 11024. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47394-z
Azua-Bustos, Armando ; González-Silva, Carlos ; Fernández-Martínez, Miguel Ángel ; Arenas-Fajardo, Cristián ; Fonseca, Ricardo ; Martin-Torres, Javier ; Fernández-Sampedro, Maite ; Fairén, Alberto G. ; Zorzano, María Paz. / Aeolian transport of viable microbial life across the Atacama Desert, Chile : Implications for Mars. In: Scientific reports. 2019 ; Vol. 9, No. 1.
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