No. 129: MAY-JUN 2000
D. radiodurans can do more than survive on Mars. It can begin to detoxify the soil and prepare the way for other pioneer microorganisms. And even more:
What D. radiodurans can provide is a microscopic (and therefore easily portable) factory -- a kind of terra-forming toolkit -- from which any number of products potentially can be derived. Whether it is engineered to reduce metals, produce drugs for ailing astronauts or simply manufacture the polymers necessary for the production of thread, D. radiodurans, one of the world's oldest bacteria, may provide a means of expanding the limits of human imagination beyond the written sci-fi page.
(Slotnick, Rebecca Sloan; "Extremophilic Terraforming," American Scientist, 88: 124, 2000.)
Comment. Perhaps D. radiodurans is the oldest bacterium on earth. Having arrived eons ago on a bit of cosmic debris. It quickly set up shop on what was then a planet hostile to complex life. Perhaps earth itself has been terraformed!
Nature's plan is all so obvious, extremophiles first terraform planets and then Gaia sustains the conditions appropriate for complex life. But where did it all begin?
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