Life in the sky: What shapes microbial communities in the air?

Microbes are constantly present in the air, but little is known about how these diverse communities are influenced by their environment—a topic of growing interest in the face of climate change. Scientists discovered that seasonality appeared to enhance biodiversity during the warmer months, and local urbanized landscapes contributed to less airborne diversity when compared to more vegetative locations. This data reflects a chapter in the evolution of biodiversity in airborne microbial communities, and may help us to predict the changes that could be associated with anthropogenic climate change.

Can terrestrial life cope beyond the shelter of the atmosphere?

The capabilities of the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans to survive in the low Earth orbit without oxygen expands the possibilities of space travel. Yet, the very same capabilities bring into question the sterilization practices currently used to rid space missions of interplanetary species contamination.