Dirk Schulze-Makuch

Dirk Schulze-Makuch
Technische Universität Berlin | TUB · Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics

Doctor of Philosophy

About

374
Publications
58,439
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5,244
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2013 - present
Technische Universität Berlin
Position
  • Guest Professor

Publications

Publications (374)
Article
Full-text available
If life exists on Mars, it would face several challenges including the presence of perchlorates, which destabilize biomacromolecules by inducing chaotropic stress. However, little is known about perchlorate toxicity for microorganism on the cellular level. Here we present the first proteomic investigation on the perchlorate‐specific stress response...
Article
Full-text available
Polygonal networks occur on various terrestrial and extraterrestrial surfaces holding valuable information on the pedological and climatological conditions under which they develop. However, unlike periglacial polygons that are commonly used as an environmental proxy, the information that polygons in the hyper‑arid Atacama Desert can provide is lit...
Article
Nearly half a century ago, two papers postulated the likelihood of lunar lava tube caves using mathematical models. Today, armed with an array of orbiting and fly-by satellites and survey instrumentation, we have now acquired cave data across our solar system—including the identification of potential cave entrances on the Moon, Mars, and at least n...
Preprint
Full-text available
If life exists on Mars, it would face several challenges including the presence of perchlorates, which destabilize biomacromolecules by inducing chaotropic stress. However, little is known about perchlorate toxicity for microorganism on the cellular level. Here we present the first proteomic investigation on the perchlorate-specific stress response...
Article
Full-text available
The Nostoc sp. strain CCCryo 231-06 is a cyanobacterial strain capable of surviving under extreme conditions and thus is of great interest for the astrobiology community. The knowledge of its complete genome sequence would serve as a guide for further studies. However, a major concern has been placed on the effects of contamination on the quality o...
Article
Full-text available
Background The hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert is an extremely harsh environment thought to be colonized by only a few heterotrophic bacterial species. Current concepts for understanding this extreme ecosystem are mainly based on the diversity of these few species, yet a substantial area of the Atacama Desert hyperarid topsoil is covered by ex...
Article
Full-text available
The availability of liquid water is a prerequisite for all lifeforms on Earth. In hyperarid subzero environments like the Dry Valleys in Antarctica or the near-subsurface of Mars liquid water might be provided temporarily by hygroscopic substances that absorb water from the atmosphere and lower the freezing point of water. To evaluate the potential...
Article
Full-text available
There are two types of rogue planets, sub-brown dwarfs and “rocky” rogue planets. Sub-brown dwarfs are unlikely to be habitable or even host life, but rocky rogue planets may have a liquid ocean under a thick atmosphere or an ice layer. If they are overlain by an insulating ice layer, they are also referred to as Steppenwolf planets. However, given...
Article
Full-text available
Habitability has been generally defined as the capability of an environment to support life. Ecologists have been using Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) for more than four decades to study the habitability of Earth from local to global scales. Astrobiologists have been proposing different habitability models for some time, with little integration...
Preprint
Full-text available
Habitability has been generally defined as the capability of an environment to support life. Ecologists have been using Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) for more than four decades to study the habitability of Earth from local to global scales. Astrobiologists have been proposing different habitability models for some time, with little integration...
Article
The Atacama Desert is the oldest and driest non-polar desert on Earth. Millions of years of hyperaridity enabled salt accumulations through atmospheric deposition. These salts can serve as proxies to decipher the interaction between water and soil as well as to understand the habitability with changing environmental settings. Therefore, we investig...
Article
Full-text available
Viruses play an essential role in shaping microbial community structures and serve as reservoirs for genetic diversity in many ecosystems. In hyperarid desert environments, where life itself becomes scarce and loses diversity, the interactions between viruses and host populations have remained elusive. Here, we resolved host-virus interactions in t...
Article
Full-text available
We present a model of the evolution of control systems in a genome under environmental constraints. The model conceptually follows the Jacob and Monod model of gene control. Genes contain control elements which respond to the internal state of the cell as well as the environment to control expression of a coding region. Control and coding regions e...
Article
Full-text available
The existence of microbial activity hotspots in temperate regions of Earth is driven by soil heterogeneities, especially the temporal and spatial availability of nutrients. Here we investigate whether microbial activity hotspots also exist in lithic microhabitats in one of the most arid regions of the world, the Atacama Desert in Chile. While previ...
Article
Full-text available
We present a case for the exploration of Venus as an astrobiology target-(1) investigations focused on the likelihood that liquid water existed on the surface in the past, leading to the potential for the origin and evolution of life, (2) investigations into the potential for habitable zones within Venus' present-day clouds and Venus-like exo atmos...
Article
Microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) is an economically attractive tertiary recovery technique and fermentative bacteria are frequently suggested for MEOR, partly because microbially produced organic acids have the potential for rock matrix dissolution. In this study, the metabolic activity and the community shift of a diverse microbiome of a hig...
Article
Full-text available
The possible detection of the biomarker of phosphine as reported by Greaves et al. in the Venusian atmosphere stirred much excitement in the astrobiology community. While many in the community are adamant that the environmental conditions in the Venusian atmosphere are too extreme for life to exist, others point to the claimed detection of a convin...
Article
Full-text available
Habitability has been generally defined as the capability of an environment to support life. Ecologists have been using Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) for more than four decades to study the habitability of Earth from local to global scales. Astrobiologists have been proposing different habitability models for some time, with little integrati...
Article
Souring induced by sulfate reducing microorganisms (SRM) represents a severe problem in the petroleum industry. In addition to conventional biocides and nitrate, alternative SRM inhibitors such as molybdate have been proposed recently for controlling microbial souring. We used oilfield-derived microbial consortia, rock and fluids to test molybdate...
Article
Full-text available
Presentations at the 4th Workshop of the German Astrobiological Society (DAbG) on Astrobiology, 26–27 September 2019, Vienna, Austria Astrobiology investigates the origin, evolution, occurrence of past, present and future life in the Universe. The questions on how and when life originated on Earth are therefore linked to any astrobiological reasoni...
Article
Full-text available
Polygonal grounds are landscape features commonly associated with periglacial environments originating from freeze-thawing cycles or frost-related processes. However, such a genesis is unlikely for polygonal grounds on alluvial surfaces in the warm and hyper-arid Atacama Desert due to the lack of enduring sub-zero temperatures and limited water ava...
Article
Full-text available
(1) Background: Future missions to potentially habitable places in the Solar System require bio-chemistry-independent methods for detecting potential alien life forms. The technology was not advanced enough for onboard machine analysis of microscopic observations to be performed in past missions, but recent increases in computational power make the...
Preprint
Full-text available
We present a model of the evolution of control systems in a genome under environmental constraints. The model conceptually follows the Jacob and Monod model of gene control. Genes contain control elements which respond to the internal state of the cell as well as the environment to control expression of a coding region. Control and coding regions e...
Preprint
Full-text available
Viruses play an essential role in shaping microbial community structures and serve as reservoirs for genetic diversity in many ecosystems. In hyperarid desert environments, where life itself becomes scarce and loses diversity, the interactions between viruses and host populations have remained elusive. Here, we resolved host-virus interactions in t...
Article
The fact that Earth is teeming with life makes it appear odd to ask whether there could be other planets in our galaxy that may be even more suitable for life. Neglecting this possible class of "superhabitable" planets, however, could be considered anthropocentric and geocentric biases. Most important from the perspective of an observer searching f...
Article
Full-text available
Most definitions of life assume that, at a minimum, life is a physical form of matter distinct from its environment at a lower state of entropy than its surroundings, using energy from the environment for internal maintenance and activity, and capable of autonomous reproduction. These assumptions cover all of life as we know it, though more exotic...
Preprint
The hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert is an extremely harsh environment previously thought to be colonized by only a few heterotrophic bacterial species. In addition, carbon and nitrogen cycling in these highly oligotrophic ecosystems are poorly understood. Here we genomically resolved a novel genus of Thaumarchaeota, Ca. Nitrosodesertus, found...
Preprint
Full-text available
Habitability has been generally defined as the capability of an environment to support life. Ecologists have been using Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) for more than four decades to study the habitability of Earth from local to global scales. Astrobiologists have been proposing different habitability models for some time, with little integration...
Article
Full-text available
Microorganisms living in sub-zero environments can benefit from the presence of dissolved salts, as they significantly increase the temperature range of liquid water by lowering the freezing point. However, high concentrations of salts can reduce microbial growth and survival, and can evoke a physiological stress response. It remains poorly underst...
Article
As a dynamic screening tool for a high-salinity Wintershall oilfield (186 g/L), anaerobic sandpacks were established to simulate Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR) under defined laboratory conditions. Glass beads, quartz sand or crushed reservoir rock were used to produce porous media which varied in permeability, wettability, homogeneity and g...
Article
Full-text available
On November 5-8, 2019, the "Mars Extant Life: What's Next?" conference was convened in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The conference gathered a community of actively publishing experts in disciplines related to habitability and astrobiology. Primary conclusions are as follows: A significant subset of conference attendees concluded that there is a realistic...
Article
Full-text available
The habitability of Mars is strongly dependent on the availability of liquid water, which is essential for life as we know it. One of the few places where liquid water might be found on Mars is in liquid perchlorate brines that could form via deliquescence. As these concentrated perchlorate salt solutions do not occur on Earth as natural environmen...
Article
The question whether organic compounds occur on Mars remained unanswered for decades. However, the recent discovery of various classes of organic matter in martian sediments by the Curiosity rover seems to strongly suggest that indigenous organic compounds exist on Mars. One intriguing group of detected organic compounds were thiophenes, which typi...
Article
Full-text available
The current understanding of the Martian surface indicates that briny environments at the near-surface are temporarily possible, e.g. in the case of the presumably deliquescence-driven Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL). However, whether such dynamic environments are habitable for terrestrial organisms remains poorly understood. This hypothesis was teste...
Article
Terrestrial mud volcanoes are unique structures driven by tectonic pressure and fluids from the deep subsurface. These structures are mainly found in active tectonic zones, such as the area near the Los Bajos Fault in Trinidad. Here we report a chemical and microbiological characterization of three mud volcanoes, which included analyses of multiple...
Article
Full-text available
The accumulation of thousands of boulder-sized clasts into boulder fields in the Atacama Desert has been linked to seismic-driven downslope transport, a rare sedimentary process corroborated by this study. We surveyed boulder arrangements occurring in the Atacama Desert and identified three accumulation types for further investigation: a small circ...
Article
Full-text available
Naked mole-rats are eusocial, hairless mammals that are uniquely adapted to their harsh, low-oxygen subsurface habitat. Although their encephalization quotient, a controversial marker of intelligence, is low, they exhibit many features considered tell-tale signs of highly intelligent species on our planet including longevity, plasticity, social coh...
Article
Full-text available
Extraterrestrial environments encompass physicochemical conditions and habitats that are unknown on Earth, such as perchlorate-rich brines that can be at least temporarily stable on the martian surface. To better understand the potential for life in these cold briny environments, we determined the maximum salt concentrations suitable for growth (MS...
Article
The detection of chlorinated hydrocarbons by Curiosity on Mars has been attributed to the presence of unidentified indigenous organic matter. Similarly, oxychlorines on Earth have been proposed to be responsible for the apparent lack of organics in the Atacama Desert. The presence of perchlorate (ClO4-) poses a unique challenge to the measurement o...
Chapter
Luftsauerstoff ist für das tierische Leben unverzichtbar, vor allem für uns selbst. Ein gesunder erwachsener Mensch kann zwei Wochen ohne Nahrung und mehrere Tage ohne Wasser aushalten, aber nicht mehr als fünf Minuten ohne Sauerstoff, ohne bleibende Schäden davonzutragen. Jedes Schulkind weiß, dass grüne Pflanzen die Energie des Sonnenlichts nutze...
Chapter
Wir hoffen, dass wir bisher überzeugend darlegen konnten, dass viele der Dinge, die komplexe Organismen wie wir besitzen – eukaryotische Zellen, Mehrzelligkeit, Sex – und andere, von denen wir abhängig sind, wie Sauerstoff, wahrscheinliche Folgen des Lebens sind, nachdem es sich auf der Erde vor 3,5 Mrd. Jahren entwickelt hatte. Aber das Auftauchen...
Chapter
Wir widmen uns nun der Frage, ob ein Planet grundsätzlich Leben aufrechterhalten kann. Die Minimalvoraussetzungen für komplexes Leben sind deutlich höher als für mikrobielles. Wir werden zuerst überlegen, was unsere Erde zu einem bewohnbaren Planeten macht und inwiefern ihre Geschichte im Sonnensystem eng mit dem Auftauchen und dem Fortbestand von...
Chapter
Wir können die Hypothese vom lebendigen Universum heute nicht testen, doch eines Tages werden wir so weit sein, denn wir werden immer bessere Fernerkundungen durchführen können, und vielleicht werden wir einmal geeignete Exoplaneten und Exomonde besuchen können. Die schlechte Nachricht ist, dass dies immer noch Jahrzehnte dauern wird, die gute, das...
Chapter
Der bedeutendste Moment in der Geschichte des Lebens auf unserem Planeten ist sein Ursprung. Viele der ersten Wissenschaftler, die sich mit dem Phänomen Leben auseinandergesetzt haben, waren der Ansicht, dass „tote Materie“ und Energie allein das Leben nicht erklären können und dass es einen wesentlichen Bestandteil geben müsse, der lebende Organis...
Chapter
Alles Leben besteht aus Zellen. Einzellige Organismen bestehen, wie der Namen schon sagt, aus nur einer Zelle, auch wenn diese Zelle außerordentlich komplex sein kann. Vielzeller verfügen nicht nur über viele Zellen, sondern auch zahlreiche unterschiedliche.
Chapter
Die Welt der Prokaryoten setzt sich aus Archaebakterien und Bakterien zusammen, die allein aufgrund ihrer schieren Anzahl unsere Welt beherrschen. Doch die Evolution führte zu einer immer höheren Komplexität, und die Entstehung eines weiteren wichtigeren Zelltyps, der eukaryotischen Zelle, stellte dabei eine entscheidende Innovation dar. Zwar sind...
Chapter
Im vorhergehenden Kapitel haben wir gesehen, dass viele Tiergruppen die Fähigkeit entwickelt haben, Werkzeuge zu verwenden, Probleme zu lösen, vorauszuplanen und komplexes Verhalten zu lernen. Doch es gibt nur eine Spezies, die diese Fähigkeiten so außerordentlich stark ausgeprägt besitzt, dass sie eine eigene Klasse bildet; diese Spezies ist natür...
Chapter
Menschen, oder zumindest die Menschen, die dieses Buch lesen, sind oft stolz auf ihre Intelligenz. Die Menschen haben die fortschrittlichste materielle Kultur und das komplizierteste und flexibelste Kommunikationssystem aller Wesen auf der Erde. Doch auch viele Tiere haben Fähigkeiten, die auf ein erhebliches Maß an Intelligenz schließen lassen.
Chapter
Am Anfang dieses Buches haben wir die Idee des großen Filters vorgestellt, etwas, das zwischen der Entstehung von Planeten (vom dem wir wissen, dass es oft passiert) und der Existenz technologischer Zivilisationen (die selten zu sein scheinen) steht. Wir haben uns gefragt, was dieser große Filter wohl sein könnte, und vermutet, dass es sich im Lauf...
Chapter
Wenn Menschen meinen, Sex sei wichtig, haben sie vermutlich Recht. Aber wenn Biologen über die Vermehrung durch Sex sprechen, meinen sie nicht den Spaß und die Intimität. Das ist ziemlich nebensächlich. Bei der sexuellen Revolution geht es darum, wie zwei Individuen ihre Gene vermischen und so ein neues Individuum erzeugen. Das ist einer der entsch...
Chapter
Vermutlich wurde das Leben zu Beginn von Reaktionen zwischen chemischen Stoffen – vor allem aus Gestein und Gasen – angetrieben, die bereits in der Umgebung der jungen Erde vorhanden waren. Wenn Leben an hydrothermalen Quellen in den Tiefen der Ozeane entstanden ist, dann reagierten das vulkanische Gestein und die Gase, die von diesen Vulkanen ausg...
Chapter
In diesem Buch werden wir begründen, warum die Entwicklung komplexen Lebens in jeder stabilen Umgebung mit ausreichend Lebensraum sehr wahrscheinlich ist, sobald auf einem planetaren Körper einmal Leben entstanden ist. Das komplexe Leben auf der Erde sind die echten (obligaten) Lebensformen aus vielen Zellen, vor allem die Mitglieder aus den Reiche...
Article
Full-text available
Future efforts towards Mars exploration should include a discussion about the effects that the strict application of Planetary Protection policies is having on the astrobiological exploration of Mars, which is resulting in a continued delay in the search for Martian life. As proactive steps in the path forward, here we propose advances in three are...
Article
Full-text available
BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment) is an ESA/Roscosmos space exposure experiment housed within the exposure facility EXPOSE-R2 outside the Zvezda module on the International Space Station (ISS). The design of the multiuser facility supports—among others—the BIOMEX investigations into the stability and level of degradation of space-exposed biosign...
Book
Sind wir allein im Universum? Dieses Buch bietet eine einzigartige Perspektive auf die Frage, die die Menschheit von Anbeginn beschäftigt. In klarem und allgemein verständlichem Stil untersuchen zwei führende Forscher aus der Astrobiologie die verschiedenen Wege, die zu einer vielfältigen Biosphäre führen. Ist der Mensch eine galaktische Besonderhe...
Conference Paper
Genome sequencing of single microbial cells in low biomass settings such as in extreme conditions could lead to crucial findings in astrobiological pursuits. Typically, sequencing requires high biomass and averages over genomically heterogeneous populations, concealing the valuable information hidden within very few cells. Single cell whole genome...
Conference Paper
The next two rover missions to Mars, ESA/Roscosmos’s ExoMars2020 and NASA’s Mars2020, will carry for the first time Raman spectrometers potentially able to dectect traces of past or present life. To support and interpret future spectroscopic data correctly a better understanding of potential habitable environments and putative biosignatures, using...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth and has been for more than 10 million years, rendering the soils a suitable analog environment for Mars, where today´s life detection methods come to their limit of sensitivity. However, a recent study has shown that after rare rainfall events these Mars-like soils can te...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Patterned grounds represent widespread and yet puzzling landscape features on Mars and periglacial regions on Earth and are believed to form through the repetitive deformation of the ground. A better knowledge of their distribution, morphological variability, and processes of formation can give clues about past and recent climatic conditions, the c...
Article
Full-text available
Single-cell sequencing is a powerful technology that provides the capability of analyzing a single cell within a population. This technology is mostly coupled with microfluidic systems for controlled cell manipulation and precise fluid handling to shed light on the genomes of a wide range of cells. So far, single-cell sequencing has been focused mo...
Article
Upcoming telescopes might be able to detect signatures of complex life on other worlds, but we need to involve physical, chemical and life scientists at the planning stage in order to interpret the findings when the time comes.
Article
Full-text available
It is well known that dissolved salts can significantly lower the freezing point of water and thus extend habitability to subzero conditions. However, most investigations thus far have focused on sodium chloride as a solute. In this study, we report on the survivability of the bacterial strain Planococcus halocryophilus in sodium, magnesium, and ca...