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A study in blue : Secondary copper-rich minerals and their associated bacterial diversity in Icelandic lava tubes

A study in blue : Secondary copper-rich minerals and their associated bacterial diversity in Icelandic lava tubes


Title: A study in blue : Secondary copper-rich minerals and their associated bacterial diversity in Icelandic lava tubes
Author: Kopacz, Nina
Csuka, Joleen
Baqué, Mickael
Iakubivskyi, Iaroslav
Guðlaugardóttir, Hrefna
Klarenberg, Ingeborg J.   orcid.org/0000-0002-9548-9069
Ahmed, Mahid
Zetterlind, Alexandra
Singh, Abhijeet
ten Kate, Inge Loes
... 7 more authors Show all authors
Date: 2022-05
Language: English
Scope:
School: School of Business and Science
Department: Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences
Series: Earth and Space Science; 9(5)
ISSN: 2333-5084
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2022EA002234
Subject: Jarðefni; Gerlar; Hraun; astrobiology; Iceland; lava tubes; Mars; Martian analogs; speloethems; Environmental Science (miscellaneous); Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/3400

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Citation:

Kopacz , N , Csuka , J , Baqué , M , Iakubivskyi , I , Guðlaugardóttir , H , Klarenberg , I J , Ahmed , M , Zetterlind , A , Singh , A , ten Kate , I L , Hellebrand , E , Stockwell , B R , Stefánsson , Á B , Vilhelmsson , O Þ , Neubeck , A , Schnürer , A & Geppert , W 2022 , ' A study in blue : Secondary copper-rich minerals and their associated bacterial diversity in Icelandic lava tubes ' , Earth and Space Science , vol. 9 , no. 5 , e2022EA002234 . https://doi.org/10.1029/2022EA002234

Abstract:

 
Lava tubes on Mars hold exciting potential for the preservation of biosignatures, which may survive on geological timescales in these isolated, stable environments. To support the development of future astrobiological mission concepts, we turn to terrestrial lava tubes, host to a variety of microbial communities and secondary minerals. Following a multidisciplinary sampling protocol, we retrieved biological, molecular, and mineralogical data from several lava tubes in Iceland. We report on blue-colored copper-rich secondary minerals and their associated bacterial communities using a multi-method approach, and an amalgam of 16S rRNA gene sequencing, Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy data sets. We found numerous bacterial genera known for their high metal resistance and ability to survive in low-nutrient environments. Both are characteristics to be expected for any potential life in Martian lava tubes, and should be considered when checking for contaminants in Mars mission preparations. Associated with the microbial mats, we identified several types of copper-rich secondary minerals, indicating localized copper enrichments in the groundwater, possibly stemming from overlying ash deposits and nearby hyaloclastite formations. Molecular analysis revealed carotenoid signals preserved within the copper speleothems. If found in Martian lava tubes, blue copper-rich mineral precipitates would be deserving of astrobiological investigation, as they have potential to preserve biosignatures and harbor life.
 
Lava tubes on Mars hold exciting potential for the preservation of biosignatures, which may survive on geological timescales in these isolated, stable environments. To support the development of future astrobiological mission concepts, we turn to terrestrial lava tubes, host to a variety of microbial communities and secondary minerals. Following a multidisciplinary sampling protocol, we retrieved biological, molecular, and mineralogical data from several lava tubes in Iceland. We report on blue-colored copper-rich secondary minerals and their associated bacterial communities using a multi-method approach, and an amalgam of 16S rRNA gene sequencing, Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy data sets. We found numerous bacterial genera known for their high metal resistance and ability to survive in low-nutrient environments. Both are characteristics to be expected for any potential life in Martian lava tubes, and should be considered when checking for contaminants in Mars mission preparations. Associated with the microbial mats, we identified several types of copper-rich secondary minerals, indicating localized copper enrichments in the groundwater, possibly stemming from overlying ash deposits and nearby hyaloclastite formations. Molecular analysis revealed carotenoid signals preserved within the copper speleothems. If found in Martian lava tubes, blue copper-rich mineral precipitates would be deserving of astrobiological investigation, as they have potential to preserve biosignatures and harbor life.
 

Description:

Funding Information: The Icelandic Speleological Society (ISS) was indispensable to this work, with in-depth knowledge of the terrain, and by doing their best to keep these caves in their pristine states by protecting them from human contamination by tourists or civilians, which is vital when collecting samples of microbial mats. Our guides Árni B. Stefánsson, Guðni Gunnarsson, and Ingólfur Páll Matthíasson were delightful to work with, and we thank them with the utmost reverence for their professionalism and for sharing these subterranean natural wonders with our team. Many thanks to Anett Blischke of the Icelandic GeoSurvey for constructing the geological map of Iceland in Figure 1. This work was supported by NWO ALWOP.274 and the University of Akureyri Research Fund (grant no. R1812). M.B. acknowledges the support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG – German Research Foundation) for the project “Raman Biosignatures for Astrobiology Research” (RaBioFAM; project number: 426601242) and of Geo.X, the Research Network for Geosciences in Berlin and Potsdam, for a travel grant. B.R.S. is an inventor of patents and patent applications involving small molecule therapeutics, co-founded and serves as a consultant to Inzen Therapeutics and Nevrox Limited, and serves as a consultant to Weatherwax Biotechnologies Corporation and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Funding Information: The Icelandic Speleological Society (ISS) was indispensable to this work, with in‐depth knowledge of the terrain, and by doing their best to keep these caves in their pristine states by protecting them from human contamination by tourists or civilians, which is vital when collecting samples of microbial mats. Our guides Árni B. Stefánsson, Guðni Gunnarsson, and Ingólfur Páll Matthíasson were delightful to work with, and we thank them with the utmost reverence for their professionalism and for sharing these subterranean natural wonders with our team. Many thanks to Anett Blischke of the Icelandic GeoSurvey for constructing the geological map of Iceland in Figure 1 . This work was supported by NWO ALWOP.274 and the University of Akureyri Research Fund (grant no. R1812). M.B. acknowledges the support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG – German Research Foundation) for the project “Raman Biosignatures for Astrobiology Research” (RaBioFAM; project number: 426601242) and of Geo.X, the Research Network for Geosciences in Berlin and Potsdam, for a travel grant. B.R.S. is an inventor of patents and patent applications involving small molecule therapeutics, co‐founded and serves as a consultant to Inzen Therapeutics and Nevrox Limited, and serves as a consultant to Weatherwax Biotechnologies Corporation and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Earth and Space Science published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Geophysical Union.

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