2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 4:35 PM


MORMILE, Melanie, Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Rolla, 105 Schrenk Hall, 1870 Miner Circle, Rolla, MO 65409-1120, BENISON, Kathleen, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Central Michigan University, 314 Brooks Hall, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859, OBOH-IKUENOBE, Francisca, Geological Sciences and Engineering, Univ of Missouri - Rolla, 125 McNutt Hall, 1870 Miner Circle, Rolla, MO 65409-0410 and BOWEN, Brenda Beitler, Geology, Central Michigan University, 314 Brooks Hall, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859, mmormile@umr.edu

Primary fluid inclusions from modern and ancient halites formed in saline lakes and pans can be considered repositories for microorganisms or their bio-molecules. Previously, a halobacterium was isolated from a 186 m subsurface core taken from the Badwater salt pan in Death Valley, CA. A number of crystals were removed from various halite layers including one that was deposited 97 kyr ago as indicated by U-Th disequilibrium dating. Although the isolated organism was identified as Halobacterium salinarum, it is not known if this species was a prominent member of the microbial community at the time of halite deposition. Halites from modern Australian lakes were collected during fieldwork in June-July 2005 and are being examined for the presence of microorganisms through (1) selective culturing and (2) microscopically by using a microdrill/micropipet. The recovered organisms will be compared to the microbial community in the overlying water. This research provides insight into the feasibility of extrapolating the microbial population found within evaporite inclusions to that inhabiting the surrounding aqueous environments, be they on Earth or possibly on Mars.