Using thermal inactivation kinetics to calculate the probability of extreme spore longevity: implications for paleomicrobiology and lithopanspermia

Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2003 Dec;33(6):621-31. doi: 10.1023/a:1025789032195.


Thermal inactivation kinetics with extrapolation were used to model the survival probabilities of spores of various Bacillus species over time periods of millions of years at the historical ambient temperatures (25-40 degrees C) encountered within the 250 million-year-old Salado formation, from which the putative ancient spore-forming bacterium Salibacillus marismortui strain 2-9-3 was recovered. The model indicated extremely low-to-moderate survival probabilities for spores of mesophiles. but surprisingly high survival probabilities for thermophilic spores. The significance of the results are discussed in terms of the survival probabilities of (i) terrestrial spores in ancient geologic samples and (ii) spores transported between planets within impact ejecta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus / metabolism*
  • Fossils*
  • Kinetics
  • Longevity*
  • Probability
  • Spores, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Temperature*
  • Time Factors