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Microbial Rock Inhabitants Survive Hypervelocity Impacts on Mars-Like Host Planets: First Phase of Lithopanspermia Experimentally Tested

Horneck, Gerda and Stöffler, Dieter and Ott, Sieglinde and Hornemann, Ulrich and Cockell, Charles S. and Moeller, Ralf and Meyer, Cornelia and de Vera, Jean-Pierre and Fritz, Jörg and Schade, Sara and Artemieva, Natalia A. (2008) Microbial Rock Inhabitants Survive Hypervelocity Impacts on Mars-Like Host Planets: First Phase of Lithopanspermia Experimentally Tested. Astrobiology, 8 (1), pp. 17-44. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.. DOI: doi:10.1089/ast.2007.0134.

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Abstract

The scenario of lithopanspermia describes the viable transport of microorganisms via meteorites. To test the first step of lithopanspermia, i.e., the impact ejection from a planet, systematic shock recovery experiments within a pressure range observed in martian meteorites (5–50 GPa) were performed with dry layers of microorganisms (spores of Bacillus subtilis, cells of the endolithic cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis, and thalli and ascocarps of the lichen Xanthoria elegans) sandwiched between gabbro discs (martian analogue rock). Actual shock pressures were determined by refractive index measurements and Raman spectroscopy, and shock temperature profiles were calculated. Pressure-effect curves were constructed for survival of B. subtilis spores and Chroococcidiopsis cells from the number of colony-forming units, and for vitality of the photobiont and mycobiont of Xanthoria elegans from confocal laser scanning microscopy after live/dead staining (FUN-I). A vital launch window for the transport of rock-colonizing microorganisms from a Mars-like planet was inferred, which encompasses shock pressures in the range of 5 to about 40 GPa for the bacterial endospores and the lichens, and a more limited shock pressure range for the cyanobacterium (from 5–10 GPa). The results support concepts of viable impact ejections from Mars-like planets and the possibility of reseeding early Earth after asteroid cataclysms.

Document Type:Article
Title:Microbial Rock Inhabitants Survive Hypervelocity Impacts on Mars-Like Host Planets: First Phase of Lithopanspermia Experimentally Tested
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Horneck, GerdaUNSPECIFIED
Stöffler, DieterMuseum für Naturkunde, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Ott, SieglindeInstitut für Botanik, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Hornemann, UlrichErnst-Mach-Institut für Kurzzeitdynamik, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Freiburg, Germany.
Cockell, Charles S.Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.
Moeller, RalfGerman Aerospace Center DLR, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Köln, Germany and German Collection of Microorganism and Cell Cultures GmbH (DSMZ), Braunschweig, Germany
Meyer, CorneliaGerman Aerospace Center DLR, Institute of Museum für Naturkunde, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany Aerospace Medicine, Köln, Germany and
de Vera, Jean-Pierrenstitut für Botanik, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Fritz, JörgMuseum für Naturkunde, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Schade, SaraMuseum für Naturkunde, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Artemieva, Natalia A.Institute for Dynamics of Geospheres, Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia and Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.
Date:2008
Journal or Publication Title:Astrobiology
Refereed publication:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:8
DOI:doi:10.1089/ast.2007.0134
Page Range:pp. 17-44
Publisher:Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Status:Published
Keywords:Lithopanspermia
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport (old)
HGF - Program:Space (old)
HGF - Program Themes:W FR - Forschung unter Weltraumbedingungen (old)
DLR - Research area:Space
DLR - Program:W FR - Forschung unter Weltraumbedingungen
DLR - Research theme (Project):W - Vorhaben Strahlenbiologie (old)
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kerstin Kopp
Deposited On:25 Feb 2008
Last Modified:27 Apr 2009 14:47

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