Purple bacteria contain pigments that allow them to use sunlight as their source of energy, hence their color. Small as they are, these microbes can teach us a lot about life on Earth, because they have been around longer than most other organisms on the planet. University of Miami (UM) physicist Neil Johnson, who studies purple bacteria, recently found that these organisms can also survive in the presence of extreme alien light.
The findings show that the way in which light is received by the bacteria can dictate the difference between life and death.
Johnson, head of the inter-disciplinary research group in complexity in the College of Arts and Sciences at UM and his collaborators share their findings in a paper titled "Extreme alien light allows survival of terrestrial bacteria" published online in Nature's Scientific Reports. The study reveals new possibilities for life on earth and elsewhere in the universe.