20-EPN2-120: A Molecular Toolkit to Hunt and Resolve Dark Fungal Matter (DFM) in Extreme Planetary Environments
June 3, 2023

20-EPN2-120: A Molecular Toolkit to Hunt and Resolve Fungal Dark Matter (FDM) in Extreme Planetary Environments

Visit by Ali Nawaz and Christian Wurzbacher, Technical University of Munich (Germany) to TA1 – Iceland Field Sites, MATIS
Dates of visit: 19 – 23 July 2022

Fungi are amazing but largely enigmatic creatures with huge diversity and biological potential in any conceivable ecosystem known so far. This holds for our planet, but this also seems true for outer space and other planetary bodies. However, we do not know what kind of extremophile fungi are or have been growing on other planets.

To have a clue, we need to explore extreme analogue sites on our planet using novel and advanced methods. Therefore, we here propose to collect and study samples from various extreme habitats of Iceland using a unique combination of Laser-microdissection of single cells and long-read sequencing to fully resolve the Fungal Dark Matter of Mars-analogue extreme sites in Iceland.

We believe that the outputs of this project will bring novel fungal species into scientific arena and the findings of this proposal will help the broader general scientific community dealing with AstroMycology in specific, and Astrobiology in general, to rightly speculate on the capabilities and limitations of microbial life in extreme environments and correlate it with the conditions of other planets.

Read the full scientific report, with kind permission from Ali Nawaz.