Date of Graduation

12-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Kral, Timothy

Reader

Lessner, Daniel

Second Reader

Senor, Thomas

Third Reader

Ivey, Mack

Fourth Reader

Kral, Timothy

Abstract

Methanogens, some of Earth’s most primitive prokaryotic organisms, are candidates for possible life forms capable of inhabiting Mars. Specifically, four different species (Methanobacterium formicicum, Methanococcus maripaludis, Methanosarcina barkeri, Methanothermobacter wolfeii) were analyzed for their tolerance to the presence of illite clay. Illite is a crystalline mineral that has been identified from regions of Mars’s surface. Results indicated that all four species grew with some success in the illite at different concentrations. This experimentation with methanogens’ abilities to survive and reproduce in the presence of illite allows for a more accurate understanding of the potential capability of microbial growth in Martian conditions.

Keywords

Methanogenesis, Martian atmosphere, hydrogenotrophy, anaerobic, prokaryotic, archaea

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