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Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars

Bak, E.N. and Larsen, M.G. and Moeller, R. and Nissen, S.B. and Jensen, L.R. and Nørnberg, P. and Jensen, S.J.K. and Finster, K. (2017) Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8. Frontiers Media S.A.. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01709 ISSN 1664-302X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01709

Abstract

The habitability of Mars is determined by the physical and chemical environment. The effect of low water availability, temperature, low atmospheric pressure and strong UV radiation has been extensively studied in relation to the survival of microorganisms. In addition to these stress factors, it was recently found that silicates exposed to simulated saltation in a Mars-like atmosphere can lead to a production of reactive oxygen species. Here, we have investigated the stress effect induced by quartz and basalt abraded in Mars-like atmospheres by examining the survivability of the three microbial model organisms Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus subtilis, and Deinococcus radiodurans upon exposure to the abraded silicates. We found that abraded basalt that had not been in contact with oxygen after abrasion killed more than 99% of the vegetative cells while endospores were largely unaffected. Exposure of the basalt samples to oxygen after abrasion led to a significant reduction in the stress effect. Abraded quartz was generally less toxic than abraded basalt. We suggest that the stress effect of abraded silicates may be caused by a production of reactive oxygen species and enhanced by transition metal ions in the basalt leading to hydroxyl radicals through Fenton-like reactions. The low survivability of the usually highly resistant D. radiodurans indicates that the effect of abraded silicates, as is ubiquitous on the Martian surface, would limit the habitability of Mars as well as the risk of forward contamination. Furthermore, the reactivity of abraded silicates could have implications for future manned missions, although the lower effect of abraded silicates exposed to oxygen suggests that the effects would be reduced in human habitats.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/114220/
Document Type:Article
Additional Information:Auch erschienen in: Olsson-Francis, K., Billi, D., Teske, A., de Vera, J.-P. P., eds. (2019). Habitability Beyond Earth. Lausanne: Frontiers Media. doi: 10.3389/978-2-88945-765-6
Title:Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Bak, E.N.Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkUNSPECIFIED
Larsen, M.G.Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkUNSPECIFIED
Moeller, R.Space Microbiology Research Group, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germanyhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-2371-0676
Nissen, S.B.Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkUNSPECIFIED
Jensen, L.R.Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkUNSPECIFIED
Nørnberg, P.Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkUNSPECIFIED
Jensen, S.J.K.Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkUNSPECIFIED
Finster, K.Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark and Stellar Astrophysics Center, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkUNSPECIFIED
Date:2017
Journal or Publication Title:Frontiers in Microbiology
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:8
DOI :10.3389/fmicb.2017.01709
Editors:
EditorsEmail
Billi, DanielaUniversità degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy
Publisher:Frontiers Media S.A.
ISSN:1664-302X
Status:Published
Keywords:habitability, erosion, reactive oxygen species, forward contamination, stress factors, saltation, toxicity, microorganisms
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:25 Sep 2017 13:57
Last Modified:18 Sep 2019 11:59

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