New publication: Environmental microorganisms colonise meteorites and leave a record of their presence

Hot off the press: In a new study led by Alastair Tait, we have shown that environmental microorgansims from Australia’s arid Nullarbor Plain very commonly colonise stony meteorites that have fallen to Earth. Microbes take advantage of the composition and properties of minerals in meteorites to scavenge water, regulate pH, and derive nutrients and energy. They also leave behind a variety of biomarkers (geochemical records of their presence). Because stony meteorites are amongst the best studied rocks in our solar system, we might be able to use them as a sort of “standard” to detect biomarkers on Mars and beyond.

You can learn more about this work here: 10.1016/j.gca.2017.07.025.

New results: Substrate controls first terrestrial microbes to colonise meteorites!

New results from our lab show that the geochemistry and physical properties of a sterile rock control which microorganisms are able to colonise that rock. In a study led by Alastair Tait, we show that the structure of the microbial community in stony meteorites collected from Australia’s Nullarbor Plain is controlled by the substrate and will not reach homeostasis with the community in Nullarbor soils, even after ~35,000 years. This work shows that meteorites, which are sterile when they fall to Earth and other planets, can be used to test ideas relating to first colonisers.

Read more here (it’s open access): 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01227.

New results on metal mobility during carbon mineralisation!


Check out our recent results on metal mobility during carbon mineralisation! This study was led by Jess Hamilton. It shows that potentially hazardous first row transition metals are immobilised within the crystal structures of carbonate minerals, and adsorbed to Fe-oxyhydroxides, under conditions relevant to carbon mineralisation in ultramafic landscapes and industrial reactors.

You can read more here: 10.1016/j.ijggc.2016.11.006.


EGEL members at the DXC

Catch Connor Turvey and Jessica Hamilton at the Denver X-ray Conference in a few weeks. Jessica won an all-expenses paid trip to DXC for having the top poster at this year’s Australian X-ray Analyatical Association Conference. Connor won a DXC Robert L. Snyder Student Award to support his travel to give an invited talk. Nice job everyone!