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Extreme Habitats

Biofilms and the Role of Environmental Gradients

Photosynthetic microbial biofilms such as cyanobacterial stromatolitic mats, result in highly concentrated biomolecular layers, which are tightly constrained by the penetration of PAR These accumulate 2-3 metres thick in Antarctic Dry Valley lakes. Using readily available solar energy, photosynthetic biofilms could have evolved during the wet Hesperian period on Mars. The mats would have subsequently become buried in paleolakes and similar fluvial habitats which have analogues in Antarctic Dry Valleys. If present on Mars, their concentrated stratification would make them more easily detectable by vertical sampling via a drilling technology or natural horizontal flushing through concentrated layers of dormant or fossilized layers of photosynthetic biomass into surface seepage channels.

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