Growth of methanogens on a Mars soil simulant

Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2004 Dec;34(6):615-26. doi: 10.1023/b:orig.0000043129.68196.5f.


Currently, the surface of Mars is probably too cold, too dry, and too oxidizing for life, as we know it, to exist. But the subsurface is another matter. Life forms that might exist below the surface could not obtain their energy from photosynthesis, but rather they would have to utilize chemical energy. Methanogens are one type of microorganism that might be able to survive below the surface of Mars. A potential habitat for existence of methanogens on Mars might be a geothermal source of hydrogen, possibly due to volcanic or hydrothermal activity, or the reaction of basalt and anaerobic water, carbon dioxide, which is abundant in the martian atmosphere, and of course, subsurface liquid water. We report here that certain methanogens can grow on a Mars soil simulant when supplied with carbon dioxide, molecular hydrogen, and varying amounts of water.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Extraterrestrial Environment / chemistry*
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Mars*
  • Methanobacteriaceae / growth & development*
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Water / metabolism


  • Water
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon
  • Hydrogen