Advertisement

Origins of life

, Volume 14, Issue 1–4, pp 771–776 | Cite as

The antarctic cryptoendolithic ecosystem: Relevance to exobiology

  • E. I. Friedmann
  • R. Ocampo-Friedmann
Article

Abstract

Cryptoendolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic desert liver inside porous sandstone rocks, protected by a thin rock crust. While the rock surface is abiotic, the microclimate inside the rock is comparatively mild. These organisms may have descended from early, pre-glaciation Antarctic life forms and thus may represent the last outpost of life in a gradually deterorating environment. Assuming that life once arose on Mars, it is conceivable that, following the loss of water, the last of surviving organisms withdrew to similar insulated microenvironments. Because such microscopic pockets have little connection with the outside environment, their detection may be difficult. The chances that the Viking lander could sample cryptoendolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic desert would be infinitesimal.

Keywords

Organic Chemistry Sandstone Geochemistry Life Form Rock Surface 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Denton, G. H., R. L. Armstrong, and M. Stuiver. 1971. The late cenozoic glacial history of Antarctica. pp. 267–306.In K. K. Turekian (ed.): The Lat Cenozoic Glacial Ages. Yale University Press, New Haven.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Friedmann, E. I. 1977. Microorganisms in Antarctic desert rocks from dry valleys and Dufek Massif. Antarct. J. U. S. XII, pp. 26–30.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Friedmann, E. I. 1978. Melting snow in the dry valleys is a source of water for endolithic microorganisms. Antarct. J. U. S. XIII, pp. 162–163.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Friedman, E. I. 1982. Endolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic cold desert. Science (Washington, D.C.) 215, pp. 1045–1053.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Friedman, E. I., and A. P. Kibler. 1980. Nitrogen economy of endolithic microbial communities in hot and cold deserts. Microb. Ecol. 6, pp. 95–108.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Friedmann, E. I., R. Ocampo. 1976. Endolithic blue-green algae in the dry valleys: Primary producers in the Antarctic desert ecosystem. Science (Washington, D.C.) 193, pp. 1247–1249.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Friedmann, E. I., R. O. Friedmann, L. Kappen, C. P. McKay, and J. R. Vestal. 1983. The cryptoendolithic microbial community: A “closed” ecosystem in nature. p. 101.In D. L. DeVincenzi and L. G. Pleasant (eds.): First Symposium on Chemical Evolution and the Origin and Evolution of Life. NASA Conf. Publ. 2276.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Friedmann, E. I., R. O. Friedmann, and C. P. McKay. 1981. Adaptations of cryptoendolithic lichens in the Antarctic desert. pp. 65–60.In Colloque sur les Écosystèmes Subantarctiques. Paimpont, C.N.F.R.A., No. 51. Comité National Français des Recherches Antarctiques.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Horowitz, N. H. 1976. Life in extreme environments: Biological water requirements. pp. 121–128.In C. Ponamperuma (ed.): Chemical Evolution of the Gian Planets. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Horowitz, N. H., R. E. Cameron, and J. S. Hubbard. 1972. Microbiology of the dry valleys of Antarctica. Science (Washington, D.C.) 176, pp. 24–245.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kappen, L., and E. I. Friedmann. 1983. Ecophysiology of lichens in the dry valleys of Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. II. CO2 gas exchange in cryptoendolithic lichens. Polar Biol. 1, pp. 227–232.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kappen, L., E. I. Friedmann, and J. Garty. 1981. Ecophysiology of lichens in the dry valleys of Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. I. Microclimate of the cryptoendolithic lichen habitat. Flora (Jena) 171, pp. 216–235.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lange, O. L., and L. Kappen. 1972. Photosynthesis of lichens from Antarctica. pp. 83–95.In G. A. Llano (ed.): Antarctic Terrestrial Biology, Antarct. Res. Ser. Vol. 20.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Maguire, B., Jr., L. B. Slobodkin, H. J. Morowitz, B. Moore, III, and D. B. Botkin. 1980. A new paradigm for the examination of closed ecosystems. pp. 30–68.In J. P. Giesy, Jr. (ed.): Microcosms in Ecological Research. D.O.E. Symp. Ser. 52.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    McKay, C. P., and E. I. Friedmann (in preparation). Temperature varition in the cryptoendolithic microbial environment in the Antarctic cold desert.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nienow, J. A., and E. I. Friedmann (in preparation). Light and temperature gradients in Beacon sandstone colonized by cryptoendolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic cold desert.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. I. Friedmann
    • 1
  • R. Ocampo-Friedmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahassee

Personalised recommendations