Lunar microbes cluster with natural rind cheese microbes

A recent expedition to the moon’s surface by Apollo 18 was conducted by the USA. Moon rocks were obtained (in triplicate of course) from several different lunar mares across the moon’s surface by the unmanned rover, Red.  Some questions remain about the Red rover’s sterility, early reports indicating that it has sterile technique comparable to that of a graduate student.

What has scientists really scratching their heads though is the results of a 16S rRNA survey performed on the lunar rocks. Scientists expected lunar 16S sequences to cluster with samples from Earth’s cold deserts. Instead the lunar 16S sequences appear to cluster with those of natural rind cheeses.


We asked researcher, Dr. Rusti Button, to comment on this inexplicable finding.

“I’m not all that surprised. I mean, people have been saying that the moon is made out of cheese for years, right? Additionally, natural rind cheeses are left undisturbed during the aging process, just like the surface of the moon has been left largely undisturbed. I’d even hypothesize that after increased lunar landings, we might see the moon microbiome begin to cluster with bloomy rinds [which are usually inoculated with fungi] due to human contaminants.”

Do these early lunar microbiome results lend weight to growing evidence that the moon really is made of cheese? If the moon is made of cheese, then where did the milk come from? How will future lunar missions and possible human colonization change the lunar microbiome? Researchers are currently working to find answers to these and other cheesy questions.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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