A high-quality draft genome sequence has been published for the Antarctic microbe Rhodococcus sp. JG-3. This psychrophilic (cold-loving) microorganism was isolated from permafrost in Antarctica’s Upper Dry Valleys and has been shown to actively grow in temperatures down to at least −5 °C. Rhodococcus sp. JG-3 is also moderately halotolerant (capable of surviving in salty conditions).

By making more and more genome sequences of cold-adapted microbes available, astrobiologists are increasing understanding of the mechanisms that organisms use to survive in cold environments. This could be important in determining the potential for life as we know it in similar conditions on other worlds.

The study, “Improved-high-quality draft genome sequence of Rhodococcus sp. JG-3, a eurypsychrophilic Actinobacteria from Antarctic Dry Valley permafrost,” was published in the journal Standards in Genomic Sciences.

The work was supported in part by the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) element of the NASA Astrobiology Program. ASTEP was an active program element from 2001 to 2014 and supported investigations focused on exploring Earth’s extreme environments to learn how best to search for life on other planets. The types of projects that were funded by ASTEP are now competed under Planetary Science and Technology from Analog Research (PSTAR).