Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO LIFE
Barnacles Explain Life at the Extreme
by Elizabeth Howell for Astrobiology Magazine
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Jul 22, 2015


Stalked barnacles from the vent fields at the Kawio Barat volcano, Western Pacific. Image courtesy NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Barnacles - a type of marine crustacean - are highly adaptable animals. Unlike many other groups that prefer quieter waters, they like areas with a lot of activity, are hardy against dry spells that sometimes occur in tidal zones, and can even persist in waters that are becoming more acidic due to human pollution.

Species such as this are of great interest to astrobiologists because they are curious about what sort of life may exist in watery zones away from Earth. Our solar system is full of icy moons - for example, Jupiter's Europa or Saturn's Enceladus - that likely have global oceans under their crusts. Finding out how species on Earth exist in harsh environments could help scientists understand ways life might colonize the Outer Solar System.

"If the ecosystems there function in a similar way to the ones we have on Earth, we would expect similar processes," said Santiago Herrera, a postdoctoral fellow in biology at the University of Toronto in Canada.

At the time he did his research on barnacles, he was obtaining his joint doctorate in biological oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The outcome of Herrera's barnacle research was published in January 2015 in the journal Molecular Ecology, titled "Evolutionary and biogeographical patterns of barnacles from deep-sea hydrothermal vents."

Looking at vents
Herrera's research centered on how barnacles distribute themselves in time and space. Part of his interest was driven by the effects humans may have on these marine creatures through pollution, deep-sea mining and disruption of climate patterns. But Herrera and his team was also interested in how barnacles distribute themselves in deep-sea vents, such as those found in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Vents are considered a proxy of the extreme conditions that might comprise an extraterrestrial habitat. Because vents often contain energy and chemicals spewing from beneath the surface, they can act as a catalyst for organisms seeking life.

To gain more information about how the barnacles are distributed, Herrera's team examined roughly 20 years of samples from different expeditions. All told, they had more than 100 specimens collected from several dozen vent fields worldwide.

Unlike many past studies, the group also used new DNA analysis methods that allowed them to sequence thousands of regions across the barnacle's genomes. According to Herrera, it was the first time those methods were used for animals living in hydrothermal vents.

Different origin stories
To the scientists' surprise, they found that the barnacles do not have a single evolutionary origin. Most of the barnacle species belong to one group, while only one or two species belong to the second group. It appears that barnacles did two independent colonizations of vents in history, starting around the same time as the dinosaurs went extinct, 65 million years ago.

The highest biodiversity of barnacles is in the western Pacific, which Herrera said is interesting because other marine and deep-sea species in that region also have high biodiversity. It also appears that there was a barnacle migration from there into the eastern Pacific, that then continued into the Indian Ocean, a migration that followed the dominant ocean currents of the time.

While finding a specific application to life on other planets is difficult at this time, Herrera suggested the ways in which ocean currents distribute life on Earth could apply icy moons, provided that the conditions are right for life there in the first place.

The work was partially funded by the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets element of the NASA Astrobiology Program. As a follow-up, Herrera and his collaborators plan to look at how genetic diversity of barnacles is represented at smaller spatial and temporal scales in volcanoes and mid-ocean ridges on Earth.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Astrobiology Magazine
Life Beyond Earth
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO LIFE
Finding the origins of life in a drying puddle
Atlanta, GA (SPX) Jul 21, 2015
Anyone who's ever noticed a water puddle drying in the sun has seen an environment that may have driven the type of chemical reactions that scientists believe were critical to the formation of life on the early Earth. Research reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition demonstrates that important molecules of contemporary life, known as polypeptides, can be formed simp ... read more


EXO LIFE
Russia to Land Space Vessel on Moon's Polar Region in 2019

Moon engulfed in permanent, lopsided dust cloud

Crashing comets may explain mysterious lunar swirls

Google Lunar X-Prize meets Yoda

EXO LIFE
Curiosity rover finds evidence of Mars' primitive continental crust

Never Get Lost on Mars Again With NASA's New Red Planet Map

Opportunity Rover's 7th Mars Winter to Include New Study Area

Opportunity Gets Back to Work

EXO LIFE
Planetary Resources' First Spacecraft Successfully Deployed

NASA selects leading-edge concepts for continued study

US selects four astronauts for commercial flight

Docking Adapter Sets Stage for Commercial Crew Crew

EXO LIFE
Chinese earth station is for exclusively scientific and civilian purposes

Cooperation in satellite technology put Belgium, China to forefront

China set to bolster space, polar security

China's super "eye" to speed up space rendezvous

EXO LIFE
Student satellite wins green light for Station deployment

'Jedi' astronauts say 'no fear' as they gear for ISS trip

Relief as Russian cargo ship docks at space station

Loss of SpaceX Cargo Resupply Mission No Threat to ISS Crew Security

EXO LIFE
Supporting Arianespace's mission cadence: A new fueling facility is ready

30 launches planned in next three fiscals: ISRO chief

Baikonur Cosmodrome to Be Equipped With Viewing Platforms

India to launch its heaviest commercial mission to date

EXO LIFE
Bricks to build an Earth found in every planetary system

Observing the birth of a planet

Precise ages of largest number of stars hosting planets ever measured

Can Planets Be Rejuvenated Around Dead Stars?

EXO LIFE
New mussel-inspired surgical protein glue

NATO orders deployable 3D air defense radars

Engineers give invisibility cloaks a slimmer design

Disney gives sneak peek for planned China theme park




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.