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THE ASTROBIOLOGICAL POTENTIAL OF HALOPHILIC ARCHAEA

Leuko, Stefan and Rettberg, Petra (2016) THE ASTROBIOLOGICAL POTENTIAL OF HALOPHILIC ARCHAEA. 41st Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), 30. Juli - 7. August 2016, Istanbul, Turkey.

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Abstract

The universe we know is a hostile place and currently we only know one planet that harbors life: Earth. Most of the extant life on Earth thrives in moderate environmental conditions, however, over the last decades extreme environments have been shown to harbor a great di- versity of life. The quest to understand modern life in these extreme environments addresses some of the most profound questions of humankind. How can organisms survive and thrive in these environments and could they withstand other detrimental conditions such as outer space or conditions prevalent on a foreign planet such as Mars? In this presentation, we aim to eluci- date the astrobiological potential of halophilic archaea and if there are possible extraterrestrial environments where this group of organisms may be able to survive and thrive. Recent studies have increased our confidence that liquid water exists in form of high saline brines on the surface of Mars. Such brines may be similar to high salinity environments here on Earth such as so- lar salterns or salt lakes in Antarctica. The predominant inhabitants of these environments on Earth are halophilic archaea. These organisms are not only adapted to high osmotic conditions, but also to high radiation and uctuations in temperature. Numerous studies have shown that different representatives of this family can cope with a wide variety of stress factors such as changes in osmotic pressure, ionizing radiation, different regimes of UV, exposure to simulated microgravity, exposure to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and a high resistance to prolonged desicca- tion. For example, Halococcus morrhuae and Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 both have shown high resistance against simulated solar and ionizing radiation. The desiccation resistance is of particular interest for astrobiological studies as it has been previously shown that desiccation resistance and radioresistance are strongly linked. Although it is unlikely to find active life on Mars due to high radiation regimes, halophilic archaea are known for their ability to survive entrapped in halite for up to 250 million years. Even if they are not viable anymore, organic remnants such as carotenoids may still be detected by means of Raman Spectroscopy. Taken all this information into account, halophilic archaea are ideal terrestrial organism to study the limits of life and what conditions may support life on other planets.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/105928/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:THE ASTROBIOLOGICAL POTENTIAL OF HALOPHILIC ARCHAEA
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Leuko, StefanRadiation Biology Division, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR e.V.), Linder Hoehe, 51147 Cologne, Germany; stefan.leuko (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Rettberg, PetraRadiation Biology Division, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR e.V.), Linder Hoehe, 51147 Cologne, Germany; petra.rettberg (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4439-2395
Date:2016
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Status:Published
Keywords:Astrobiology; halophilic archaea; Mars
Event Title:41st Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)
Event Location:Istanbul, Turkey
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:30. Juli - 7. August 2016
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R FR - Forschung unter Weltraumbedingungen
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Strahlenbiologie
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:23 Sep 2016 08:02
Last Modified:31 Jul 2019 20:03

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