From: Thompson Rivers University
Published July 27, 2017 08:27 AM

Cave bacteria: A window to the past, even to distant worlds

Each time she looks through a microscope to better understand cave bacteria, Richenda McFarlane may also be staring at life that’s centuries old or perhaps even something from another planets.

She’s getting to play researcher, time traveler and astronaut all at the same time.

“Because cave environments are closed off and often so extreme, they don’t change much over time,” said McFarlane. “I’ve heard cave life being equated with ancient life or life on other planets. If the bacteria was there in ancient times, it’s probably very similar to what is there today.”

And because caves can be twisty with tiny entrances and little or no opportunities for air movement, gases like nitrogen dioxide, methane, sulphur and others have the potential to build up to lethal concentrations and in doing so, mirror the environments of other planets.


Continue reading at Thompson Rivers University.

Photo via Thompson Rivers University.

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