Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks

In a recent paper published in Nature, researchers report on extremophile microbe Metallosphaera sedula and it's love for space rocks:

Living on a space rock is just one more oddball accolade that the species, Metallosphaera sedula, can add to its growing list. First isolated from a volcanic field in Italy in 1989, the microbe is considered an extremophile because it prefers to live in conditions that would be uninhabitable to most other organisms. Such organisms are helpful for probing the early history of Earth, with its harsh and inhospitable environments, as well as the possibilities for life in the universe.

When Milojevic decided to grow M. sedula on a meteorite (an unregulated process, since the organisms are non-pathogenic and meteorites aren’t particularly rare), she wanted to see at the outset how the species would react. Not only did the microorganisms find the meteorite tasty—it turned out that they came back for seconds. “We found that the reaction is quite happy,” she said. “Our students in the lab also immediately noticed the cells are very vivid, they're dancing on the space rock.”

It would be cool if some sort of lifeform could help human beings in their quest to mine asteroids for useful materials. In her 1941 short story Beast of Space, science fiction writer F.E. Hardart describes a spacehound:

Digger! A small, oddly canine-like creature with telepathic powers, a space-dweller which men found when first they came to the asteroids. The relationship between spacehounds and men was much the same as between man and dog in the old, earthbound days. Appropriate name for the beast, Digger. With those large, incredibly hard claws, designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements...

Via Exploring the microbial biotransformation of extraterrestrial material on nanometer scale and Vice.

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