Microbiology of hostile environments
Water is arguably a ubiquitous substance which is certainly not confined to Earth. Our studies focus on the interactions between water, cellular and macromolecular systems, and physicochemical parameters such as the various activities of solutes. Recent findings have led to the characterisation of two novel cellular-stress mechanisms and corresponding responses in microbial cells. These stresses are induced by chaotropic solutes and hydrophobic substances both of which disorder macromolecular structures; their characterisation led on to the finding that chaotropicity can limit life in specific locations on Earth and thus raised intriguing questions about the biological permissivity of diverse environments throughout the Solar System.
John Hallsworth has served as a member of the NASA-European Space Agency Life-Detection Group (2012) and is currently a member of NASA’s Special Regions-Scientific Analysis Group within the Mars Exploration Program.
The astrobiology seminar series is run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology based in the School of Physics & Astronomy. Astrobiology is a multi-disciplinary subject and the seminar series actively encourages attendance by undergraduates, postgraduates and academic staff from other departments..