The coming two days, Jean-Charles and I are participating in the course ‘geomicrobiology and biomineralization’ organized by the CUSO doctoral school of Switzerland at the University of Neuchatel. Lead by experts in the field, we learn about:
- Geoactive properties exhibited by fungi (Prof. G. Gadd, University of Dundee, UK)
- Microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS) and biominerals forming in microbial mats at Mars-analog sites (Dr T. Bontognali, ETH Zurich, CH)
- Storing radioactive strontium using biomineralizing capabilities of bacteria (Dr K. Benzerara, University Pierre et Marie Curie, FR)
During a fascinating day filled with lectures and discussion, we got the chance to study some living microbial mats from the sabka’s in Qatar! We are trying to understand what controls these living rocks and what they tell us about past life on Earth and the potential of life on other planets.
Photo 1: Close-up microbial mat
Photo 2: Living microbial mat (left) and fossil structure (right)