Martian river life (Rio Tinto) Images added

Images made through a microscope. All subject types.

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Pau
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Martian river life (Rio Tinto) Images added

Post by Pau »

Rio Tinto is a small river in SW Spain famous for its extreme conditions (pH around 2, high concentrations of heavy metals ions, red water color due to dissolved iron...).

If well traditonally this chemical polluants had been attribued to the anthropic contamination from the mines and mine waste lixiviates, now it is clear that this extreme environnement is at least six million years old, enough time to allow the evolution of a surprising rich microbiota.

These conditions are not just the factors conditioning the life of extremophile microbes but direct consequence of its action: the sulphuric acid produced by aerobic chemotrophic bacteria that oxidize the pyrite.

This is why Rio Tinto it is a key natural lab to study the life in this conditions and has raised a major interest as an Earth's analogue of the hypothetical life in Mars, being, both the river and the metallic sulfur rocks of the zone a main subject of international research projects in astrobiology like the M.A.R.T.E. leaded by the NASA and the Astrobiology Center in Spain.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the zone with a researcher during a Geology Symposium and I took some samples, now a bit degraded after some days in bottles.

1. Euglena mutabilis, one of the most common eukaryotes that tolerate this conditions. The lack of flagellum is very usual. Short stacks.
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2. Euglena mutabilis single shot of an active specimen
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3. It seems a decaying Euglena, but I'm not sure. Short stack.
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4. Mineral precipitate crust formed at the surface of small ponds. It may mainly formed by jarosite, an Iron sulphate that needs water and acid pH to form and has been identified in Mars. Short stack
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5. Bacterial mucose filament with mineral particules
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6. Unknown form, not sure if it is a pollen grain or a true water inhabitant
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All pictures with DIC, Leitz 40X NPL fluotar, about 100X on 7D sensor, heavily cropped
Last edited by Pau on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
Pau

discomorphella
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Post by discomorphella »

Wow Pau,

Muchas gracias for posting these pictures, now we all have a chance to see these creatures from a very unusual envrionment. Did you find any strange looking chains of bacteria? A long time ago I had an opportunity to collect a sample from an acidic stream near a volcano and found some very odd looking bacteria. Unfortunately it was when I only had an old KHC scope and no camera, so no pictures.

David

RogelioMoreno
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Post by RogelioMoreno »

Pau,

Thank you for posting them and the details about the river. :wink:


Rogelio

Pau
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Post by Pau »

Thanks David and Rogelio for your kind comments.
discomorphella wrote:Did you find any strange looking chains of bacteria?
Yes!, some very odd forms, but not even sure if they are bacteria. I will continue posting some images of UFOL (unidentified forms of life, mainly because my little knowledge :) )
Pau

Pau
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Post by Pau »

More Rio Tinto forms of life from, now from Arroyo Agrio, a similar but smaller river, pH 2.5 . Any ID help will be very welcome.

Algal filaments
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Strange deep blue bacillar forms :?:
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Fungal hiphae
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Just for fun: unidentified filaments, mineral growths and air bubbles imaging the DIC prisma
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All wth DIC, NPL Fluotar 50/1.00 oel, more or less cropped
Pau

Mitch640
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Post by Mitch640 »

Nice images and very interesting subjects.

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