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    STUDIA BIOLOGIA - Issue no. 1 / 2019  
         
  Article:   INTEGRATING GEOLOGY AND MICROBIOLOGY TO UNDERSTAND PRESERVATION OF EXTREMOPHILES IN SALT MINERALS.

Authors:  KATHLEEN C. BENISON.
 
       
         
  Abstract:  Bedded halite and gypsum form by rapid precipitation from surface lake, seawater, and spring brines, allowing entrapment of brines as primary fluid inclusions. Air and other gases, solids, and microorganisms may exist within fluid inclusions or as solid inclusions. Recent advances permit in situ observations of morphologies, optical characteristics, and compositional signatures of microorganisms and organic compounds in halite and gypsum from acd salt lakes (i.e., Conner & Benison, 2013; Benison & Karmanocky, 2014). Improved long-working distance microscope objectives enable magnification up to 2000 x and can be used with transmitted and UV light to image and analyze cells as small as 1-2 microns. Transmitted light microscopy has detected prokaryotic cocci and rods, Dunaliella algae, pennate diatoms, carotenoids and waxes in modern acid lake halite and gypsum. UV florescent response and laser Raman spectroscopy characterize organic signatures. Fieldwork, paired with geochemical and microbiological analyses, indicates host conditions for microbial communities (i.e., Zaikova et al., 2018). Permian halite from acid saline lake deposits contains microbial features similar to modern counterparts. Implications include new understanding of early terrestrial life and advisement for the search for life on Mars.

Keywords: extremophiles, fluid inclusions, gypsum, halite, microorganisms
 
         
     
         
         
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