Second Stage of Biological Experiment at Baksan Neutrino Observatory

News, 30 September 2021

In September 2021, the group of researchers from the Sector of Molecular Genetics of the Cell (SMGC) of the Dzhelepov Laboratory of Nuclear Problems performed Stage II of the experiment at the Baksan Neutrino Observatory (BNO) of the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences (INR of RAS) on the study of ultradeep microbial communities inhabiting the extreme environment near the Elbrus magma chamber. Water, soil, and inorganic sediments were sampled in an underground hot spring at a distance of 4,200 m away from the cross-passage entrance.

The samples will be transported to JINR where total DNA will be extracted for whole-genome sequencing. Studying the Baksan extremophile microbial community and the factors determining the existence of organisms in such a severe environment permits scientists to better investigate the origin of life on Earth, simulate habitable areas on other planets, describe new metabolic pathways of bacteria and, with a bit of luck, find new species of microorganisms from the Elbrus surrounding region. It was one of the first interdisciplinary studies of geneticists and physicists conducted at the unique experimental infrastructure of the Baksan Neutrino Observatory.

Albert Gangapshev (Head of the Laboratory of Low-Background Research of BNO), Mikhail Zarubin, Kirill Tarasov, Elena Kravchenko (SMGC researchers) in the cross passage at a distance of 4,200 m away from the entrance

Photos by Mikhail Zarubin