Researchers have identified the first cold-adaptation proteins found in microbial mats from Lake Joyce, a perennially ice-covered lake in Antarctica. The team studied both the abundance and distribution of a variety of proteins involved in cold adaptation in six different types of microbial mats in the lake. The study also compares the use of two separate tools used to identify the target proteins, providing insight into the effectiveness of methods that could inform future work on cold-adapted organisms.

Understanding the mechanisms that life on Earth uses to survive in low temperature environments could provide insight into how life could adapt to similar environments beyond our planet.

The work was supported by the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology element of the NASA Astrobiology Program. The study, “Distribution of cold adaptation proteins in microbial mats in Lake Joyce, Antarctica: Analysis of metagenomic data by using two bioinformatics tools,” was published in the Journal of Microbiological Methods.