Pasta-shaped bacteria found in Mars

New research reveals that the bacterium Sulfurihydrogenibium yellowstonense thrives in harsh environments with conditions like those expected on Mars. PIX/Tom Murphy

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS at Urbana-Champaign researchers are one step closer to understanding how life could potentially survive on Mars. The researcher team found that the bacterium called Sulfurihydrogenibium yellowstonense or Sulfuri controls the formation of ancient rock on Earth that looks like pasta and thrives in harsh environments that are similar to what is found on the Red Planet. According to University of Illinois geology professor Bruce Fouke, who led the new, NASA-funded study, the bacterium is part of a lineage that has evolved prior to the oxygenation of Earth approximately 2.35 billion years ago and can survive in extremely hot, fast-flowing water bubbling up from underground hot springs.

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