Organic compounds called thiophenes are found on Earth in coal, crude oil and oddly enough, in white truffles, the mushroom beloved by epicureans and wild pigs.

Thiophenes were also recently discovered on Mars, and Washington State University astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch thinks their presence would be consistent with the presence of early life on Mars.

Schulze-Makuch and Jacob Heinz with the Technische Universität in Berlin explore some of the possible pathways for thiophenes’ origins on the red planet in a new paper published in the journal Astrobiology. Their work suggests that a biological process, most likely involving bacteria rather than a truffle though, may have played a role in the organic compound’s existence in the Martian soil.



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