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On the Stability of Deinoxanthin Exposed to Mars Conditions during a Long-Term Space Mission and Implications for Biomarker Detection on Other Planets

Leuko, Stefan and Bohmeier, M. and Hanke, Franziska and Böttger, Ute and Rabbow, Elke and Parpart, Andre and Rettberg, Petra and de Vera, Jean Pierre Paul (2017) On the Stability of Deinoxanthin Exposed to Mars Conditions during a Long-Term Space Mission and Implications for Biomarker Detection on Other Planets. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8 (1680). Frontiers Media S.A.. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01680. ISSN 1664-302X.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01680


Outer space, the final frontier, is a hostile and unforgiving place for any form of life as we know it. The unique environment of space allows for a close simulation of Mars surface conditions that cannot be simulated as accurately on the Earth. For this experiment, we tested the resistance of Deinococcus radiodurans to survive exposure to simulated Mars-like conditions in low-Earth orbit for a prolonged period of time as part of the Biology and Mars experiment (BIOMEX) project. Special focus was placed on the integrity of the carotenoid deinoxanthin, which may serve as a potential biomarker to search for remnants of life on other planets. Survival was investigated by evaluating colony forming units, damage inflicted to the 16S rRNA gene by quantitative PCR, and the integrity and detectability of deinoxanthin by Raman spectroscopy. Exposure to space conditions had a strong detrimental effect on the survival of the strains and the 16S rRNA integrity, yet results show that deinoxanthin survives exposure to conditions as they prevail on Mars. Solar radiation is not only strongly detrimental to the survival and 16S rRNA integrity but also to the Raman signal of deinoxanthin. Samples not exposed to solar radiation showed only minuscule signs of deterioration. To test whether deinoxanthin is able to withstand the tested parameters without the protection of the cell, it was extracted from cell homogenate and exposed to high/low temperatures, vacuum, germicidal UV-C radiation, and simulated solar radiation. Results obtained by Raman investigations showed a strong resistance of deinoxanthin against outer space and Mars conditions, with the only exception of the exposure to simulated solar radiation. Therefore, deinoxanthin proved to be a suitable easily detectable biomarker for the search of Earth-like organic pigment-containing life on other planets.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/114298/
Document Type:Article
Title:On the Stability of Deinoxanthin Exposed to Mars Conditions during a Long-Term Space Mission and Implications for Biomarker Detection on Other Planets
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Leuko, StefanUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-0423-0896UNSPECIFIED
Bohmeier, M.institute of aerospace medicine, radiation biology division, german aerospace center (dlr e.v.), linder höhe, 51147 cologne, germanyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Rabbow, ElkeUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9301-2021UNSPECIFIED
Parpart, Andreradiation biology, institute of aerospace medicine, dlr, d-51147 cologne, germanyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Rettberg, PetraUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4439-2395UNSPECIFIED
Date:15 September 2017
Journal or Publication Title:Frontiers in Microbiology
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Publisher:Frontiers Media S.A.
Keywords:Raman spectroscopy, Deinococcus radiodurans, deinoxanthin, Mars
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Space Exploration
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Explorationsstudien (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Optical Sensor Systems > Terahertz and Laser Spectroscopy
Deposited By: Böttger, Dr.rer.nat. Ute
Deposited On:23 Feb 2018 10:22
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 15:05

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