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Title

Raman imaging in geomicrobiology: endolithic phototrophic microorganisms in gypsum from the extreme sun irradiation area in the Atacama Desert

AuthorsVítek, Petr; Ascaso, Carmen ; Artieda, Octavio ; Wierzchos, Jacek
KeywordsPhotosynthesis
Astrobiology
Carotenoids
Hyperspectral imaging
Mars
Adaptation strategy
Issue DateJun-2016
PublisherSpringer
CitationAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 408(15): 4083-4092 (2016)
AbstractThe Raman imaging method was successfully applied for mapping the distribution of biomolecules (e.g., pigments) associated with cryptoendolithic and hypoendolithic microorganisms, as well as the inorganic host mineral matrix that forms the habitat for the biota. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive study in the field of geomicrobiology based on this technique. The studied microbial ecosystem was located nearly 3000 m above sea level within the driest desert on Earth, the Atacama in Chile. Enhancement of carotenoid Raman signal intensity close to the surface was registered at different areas of endolithic colonization dominated by algae, with cyanobacteria present as well. This is interpreted as an adaptation mechanism to the excessive solar irradiation. On the other hand, cyanobacteria synthesize scytonemin as a passive UV-screening pigment (found at both the hypoendolithic and cryptoendolithic positions). The distribution of the scytonemin Raman signal was mapped simultaneously with the surrounding mineral matrix. Thus, mapping was done of the phototrophic microorganisms in their original microhabitat together with the host rock environment. Important information which was resolved from the Raman imaging dataset of the host rock is about the hydration state of Ca-sulfate, demonstrated on the presence of gypsum (CaSO·2HO) and the absence of both anhydrite (CaSO) and bassanite (CaSO·1/2HO). Obtaining combined “in situ” simultaneous information from the geological matrix (inorganic) together with the microbial biomolecules (organic) is discussed and concluded as an important advantage of this technique. We discuss how selection of the laser wavelength (785 and 514.5-nm) influences the Raman imaging results.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/155099
DOI10.1007/s00216-016-9497-9
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s00216-016-9497-9
issn: 1618-2650
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