Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biology

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


Kral, Timothy

Committee Member/Reader

Becker, Brian M.

Committee Member/Second Reader

Joffe-Minor, Tacy

Committee Member/Third Reader

Levine, Bill

Committee Member/Fourth Reader

Kral, Timothy


Because of Mars’s chemical features, it can be studied in the search for life and is a significant figure in the study of astrobiology (McKay, 2010). Dr. Kral’s laboratory studies methanogens, microorganisms in the domain Archaea, as possible life forms on Mars. Since some methanogens can withstand harsh environmental conditions and emit methane as a waste product, the growth of these microorganisms can be used as an indicator of potential life in the Mars subsurface (Kral et al., 1998). In this research, four methanogens, Methanothermobacter wolfeii, Methanobacterium formicicum, Methanosarcina barkeri, and Methanococcus maripaludi were desiccated in the presence of Mars soil simulants for two different time periods to determine their survivability under these conditions. The purpose of desiccating the organisms in an anaerobic chamber was to replicate an extremely dry subsurface Mars environment that could have minimal resources for specific amounts of time (Kendrick & Kral, 2006). The Martian soil simulants used were JSC Mars-1, montmorillonite, basalt, jarosite, and nontronite. A gas chromatograph was used to derive methane concentrations to determine which environment and allocated time were successful for methanogen growth.


Methanogens, Mars, Astrobiology, JSC- Mars, Desiccation, Anaerobic