Scientists found an organism that survives on eating Meteorites. The microbe Metallosphaera sedula is known for eating minerals. However, this is not garden-variety granite or chalk. This particular organism loves to dine on exotic rocks that come from space. This discovery of the bacteria-like archaeon’s survival on Meteorites could tell about the survival of terrestrial life off-world.
Moreover, the discovery tells about how biology could have received essential nutrients through space rocks. Meteorites are the source of rare elements such as phosphorus and some complex organic compound. Hence, it is fair to assume that Meteorites have helped in the formation of life on the planet Earth. Researchers are busy finding more similar organisms that might have evolved a talent for taking advantage of meteoroids.
The technical term for organisms that are capable of using space rocks as their primary energy source is chemolithotroph. Leptospirillum ferrooxidans and Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans are the bacteria that can oxidize the iron in meteorites. Scientists decided to use such microbes for the study that can survive in high heat and low pH environments. Moreover, these organisms showed the ability to survive in Martian soil. Hence, researchers decided to study more on these organisms that treat space rock as their meal.
Metallosphaera sedula is also a thermoacidophile, which means it can survive in high heat. It has a weird taste when it comes to thriving on minerals. M. sedula has the potential to remove iron sulfide from coal. Hence, scientists were trying to find that the organisms surviving on metal might also have a hunger for space rocks. They chose meteorite called Northwest Africa 1172 and ground-up samples of the copper-iron-sulfur mineral for the study. The closer observations showed that M. sedula was satisfied with NWA 1172 far quicker than ground-up samples. Tetyana Milojevic, an astrobiologist from the University of Vienna, said, “Meteorite-fitness seems to be more beneficial for this ancient microorganism than a diet on terrestrial mineral sources.” There could be more evolved microbes into space than bacteria on the Earth.