In a new study, a bacteria has been discovered which is said to survive on nutrients sourced from meteorites. The study will help the biologist understand how early organisms receive their nutrients from space rocks.
The newfound bacteria, metallosphaera sedula, is capable of surviving in harsh conditions. The bacteria thrive on meteorites for food. According to scientists, the meteorites consist of rare minerals like phosphorus and other complex organic compounds.
After the discovery of metallosphaera sedula, scientists are speculating whether the early organisms evolved due to a special attribute that helped them source nutrients from space debris.
Biologists have found certain bacterias that are chemolithotroph, i.e reduce inorganic compounds in rocks for energy. For example, bacterias such as leptospirillum ferrooxidans and acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans are capable of deriving iron from meteorites by oxidation.
Similarly, metallosphaera sedula can remove iron sulfide from coal. In order to dig deep, the team found a meteorite called Northwest Africa 1172 (NWA 1172), which looks like an ordinary rock and weighed approximately 120-kilogram at the time of its discovery back in 2000.
Astrobiologist Tetyana Milojevic from the University of Vienna says, “NWA 1172 is a multimetallic material, which may provide much more trace metals to facilitate metabolic activity and microbial growth," She further adds, “Moreover, the porosity of NWA 1172 might also reflect the superior growth rate of M. sedula." (sic)
According to the statement released by NASA on November 20, a team of scientists has been able to discover ‘bio-essential’ sugars in the meteorites, which consists of other biologically important compounds.
According to their theory, the chemical reactions which occur within the asteroids can help in forming elements that are essential for sustaining life.
The press release read, “The new discovery adds to the growing list of biologically important compounds that have been found in meteorites, supporting the hypothesis that chemical reactions in asteroids – the parent bodies of many meteorites – can make some of life’s ingredients.”