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2002 Annual Science Report

Michigan State University Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Executive Summary

Bacteria are the most ancient, simplest, and most numerous of Earth’s life forms. Their versatility enables them to live in even the subfreezing temperatures of the permafrost, the perennially frozen soil that is characteristic of arctic and some subarctic regions. Astrobiologists are identifying and analyzing the ways in which bacterial genes and proteins effect the remarkable adaptability that allows these primitive microorganisms to flourish in hostile environments on Earth and, possibly, in space.

Low temperatures are a predominant environmental characteristic of interstellar space, asteroids, meteors, and, of course, our Solar System, including most of the planets and their satellites. An understanding of the effects that low temperatures have on the responses and evolution of biological organisms is, therefore, integral to our knowledge of astrobiology. Toward this end, we are exploring multiple aspects of microbial adaptation to low temperatures. One major line of investigation – Genomic ... Continue reading.

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