Physicists at mit have found that microorganisms are able to survive in a hydrogen environment. The hydrogen atmosphere is typical of many exoplanets, which in the future may become potential targets for the search for extraterrestrial life. An article with the findings of researchers, reveal a new suitable place for the existence of living beings, published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Cosmobiology showed that bacteria such as E. coli Escherichia coli, can live, grow and multiply in a gaseous environment, which is one hundred percent composed of hydrogen. Microorganisms secrete dozens of different gases (nitrous oxide, ammonia, mechancial, dimethyl sulfide, carbonyl carried and isoprene), which can enrich the atmosphere of exoplanets and to serve as biosignature, that is the signs of existence of life.

Hydrogen is a light gas, so the hydrogen atmosphere will extend further from the surface of rocky planets than in the case of an atmosphere with a different gas composition, for example, of the Earth. It makes it easier to detect terrestrial and space telescopes such as telescope James Webb, whose launch is planned in 2021.

In the atmosphere of modern Earth, there is only 0,00005% of hydrogen. This gas is necessary for vital activity of some microorganisms, including the methanogens that live in extreme environments. The available methanogens consume hydrogen together with carbon dioxide and produce methane. Scientists grow this variety of microbes in the environment with 80 percent hydrogen, however, there were very few studies of tolerance of other types of microorganisms to hydrogen rich environment.

In the experiment, cosmobiology compared the resistance to hydrogen atmosphere, the two microorganisms Escherichia coli and yeast. The culture was grown separately from each other, after which they were transferred into vials filled with nutrients. From the tanks were removed oxygen rich air and replacing it with hydrogen gas. Ourselves bottles were placed on 80 hours in the incubator, where they were gently and continuously shaken for the mixing of cultures and nutrient medium. Every hour, the scientists took samples and counted the number of surviving microorganisms.

The result was represented by the classic growth curve: in the beginning the number of bacteria grew rapidly, consuming the nutrients, after which the culture was transferred in a stable phase of existence, when the place of the dead organisms took the new.