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Infrared Spectroscopic Biosignatures from Hidden Cave, New Mexico: Possible Applications for Remote Life Detection
- Preston, Louisa J., Melim, Leslie A., Polyak, Victor J., Asmerom, Yemane, Southam, Gordon
- Geomicrobiology journal 2014 v.31 no.10 pp. 929-941
- Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, calcite, crystals, fatty acids, fossils, microbial communities, polysaccharides, proteins, New Mexico
- Subsurface environments are known to support and preserve diverse microbial communities. Giant pool fingers from Hidden Cave, New Mexico consist of mm-scale dark micritic calcite layers alternating with clear dogtooth spar crystals and contain morphological and geochemical evidence of past microbial communities. We used Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy to identify fatty acids, proteins, PO ₂-carrying compounds, and polysaccharides spatially related to morphological fossil filaments throughout the surface micritic laminations and central pool finger regions. These biomolecular signatures are important components that contribute to the biosignature suite under development that identify microbial involvement in carbonate precipitation on Earth and remotely.