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Can biogenic metallic nanoparticles serve as biosignatures?
  • Marta Filipa Simões,
  • Cristiane Ottoni,
  • André Antunes
Marta Filipa Simões
Macau University of Science and Technology

Corresponding Author:msimoes@must.edu.mo

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Cristiane Ottoni
Sao Paulo State University,Institute of Energy and Nuclear Research,Institute for Technological Research
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André Antunes
Macau University of Science and Technology
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The search for evidence of existing or extant Life (biosignatures) is a growing research topic and one of the main pillars of Astrobiology. There is significant interest in the search and exploration of new biosignatures, and increasing relevance of Potential Biosignatures. These are specific features that although consistent with biological processes can also be attributed to inanimate processes. Biogenic Metallic nanoparticles (MNPs), have been intensively studied and explored, yet their synthesis is not yet fully understood. Despite the lack of a systematic survey on this topic, it is well known that many microbes produce molecules with the capability of reducing metal ions. Given the wide diversity of such molecules, we can assume that all microbial life is capable of synthesizing them and, consequently, producing MNPs. Researchers agree that any existing or extant life on Mars or on other parts of the solar system, is (or was) likely microbial. Therefore, the detection of MNPs formation, when analyzing extraterrestrial samples (e.g., sediments, rocks), could be used to infer the presence of biological molecules and thus be employed as a new potential biosignature. Therefore, in short: yes, biogenic metallic nanoparticles have a great potential of being used as biosignatures.