Constraints on the Metabolic Activity of Microorganisms in Atacama Surface Soils Inferred from Refractory Biomarkers: Implications for Martian Habitability and Biomarker Detection

Abstract: Dryness is one of the main environmental challenges to microbial survival. Understanding the threshold of microbial tolerance to extreme dryness is relevant to better constrain the environmental limits of life on Earth and critically evaluate long-term habitability models of Mars. Biomolecular proxies for microbial adaptation and growth were measured in Mars-like hyper-arid surface soils in the Atacama Desert that experience only a few millimeters of precipitation per decade, and in biologica…

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