Status Report

A Preliminary Survey of Non-Lichenized Fungi Cultured from the Hyperarid Atacama Desert of Chile

By SpaceRef Editor
August 22, 2006
Filed under , , ,
A Preliminary Survey of Non-Lichenized Fungi Cultured from the Hyperarid Atacama Desert of Chile

Aug 2006, Vol. 6, No. 4: 521-526

Full Paper

The Atacama Desert is one of the driest environments on Earth, and has been so for over 200,000 years. Previous reports have suggested that surprisingly low numbers of culturable bacteria, counted as biomass or species diversity, are present in Atacama sands collected from the most hyperarid regions. In previous studies, the presence of eukaryotic organisms was not discussed. In this report, we describe a method of direct plating onto rich media that resulted in culturing a range of fungi from Atacama samples. All fungi identified in this preliminary survey are spore-forming saprobes that are readily dispersed by wind, a likely mechanism that accounts for their presence in the central Atacama Desert.

About Astrobiology and The Astrobiology Web

Astrobiology is the leading peer-reviewed journal in its field. To promote this developing field, the Journal has teamed up with The Astrobiology Web to highlight one outstanding paper per issue of Astrobiology. This paper is available free online at and to visitors of The Astrobiology Web at

Astrobiology is published quarterly in print and online. The journal provides a forum for scientists seeking to advance our understanding of life’s origins, evolution, distribution and destiny in the universe. A complete table of contents and a full text for this issue may be viewed online at

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. – 140 Huguenot St., New Rochelle, NY 10801-5215 – – Phone: (914) 740-2100 – (800) M-LIEBERT – Fax: (914) 740-2101

SpaceRef staff editor.