The search of biomarkers of different origin and chemistry in rocks represent today a primary challenge for geobiology and exobiology. Rovers of next Martian missions will investigate regions of Mars where the ancient environments may have been favourable for microbial life, probing the rocks for evidence of past life. Terrestrial testing of approaches in the frame of terrestrial “Martian” analogues was recommended as an activity of high importance for the success of the next missions. This project focuses on the search of biomarkers in endolithic cyanobacterial colonisations in sedimentary settings of two lithologies. Miniature Raman spectrometers will allow preliminary search for colonised carbonate and gypsum layers. Analysis of microbial communities, trace analysis of biomarkers of few groups (pigments and lipids) through Raman mapping and HPLC will allow to evaluate effects of lithology and environmental conditions on life development. The main goal of this PhD project is to evaluate analytical protocols of Raman mapping of biomarkers in mineral matrices and to optimise accurate analysis of pigments and lipids for evaluation of the strategy of microorganisms to survive/colonise rocky environment under stressed/non stressed environments. Both the stressed (high mountain, low temperature) as well as non stressed colonisations in carbonate and sulfate outcrops will be investigated.

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