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Searching new extremophilic microbial model systems for space exploration studies – data from a large-scale transect study in the Atacama Desert

Boy, D. and Godoy, R. and Guggenberger, G. and Moeller, R. and Boy, J. (2017) Searching new extremophilic microbial model systems for space exploration studies – data from a large-scale transect study in the Atacama Desert. In: BIOspektrum - Das Magazin für Biowissenschaften - Abstractbook - Sonderausgabe (D13808), p. 140. Springer. MICROBIOLOGY AND INFECTION 2017, 5th Joint Conference of the DGHM & VAAM, VAAM Annual Meeting 2017, 69th Annual Meeting of the DGHM, 05-08-March 2017, Würzburg, Germany. ISSN 0947-0867

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Abstract

The search for new model organisms for space exploration missions in the Atacama Desert is traditionally limited to a rather narrow strip (Yungay, Chile) which is believed to have the most arid conditions on Earth (McKay et al., 2003) thus harboring the most desiccation-resistant microorganisms. However, it is not clear whether Yungay is indeed the driest place in the Atacama, as this should be the one with the lowest soil organic carbon (SOC) stock and soil water (SW) content. Therefore we tested different soil samples from an aridity-gradient transect with comparable sites (inclination, position in the rain shadow of the coastal mountain range, approx. 100 km distance between the sites) spanning roughly 600 km in the Atacama Desert for SOC stocks and SW content. We found, that SOC stocks decreased with aridity from 25.5 to 2.1 kg m-2 cm-1, while the SW contents decreased at 5 of our sites and increased in the hyper-arid zone. To our surprise, we identified one site located 100 km north of Yungay which had substantially lower SOC stocks (1.92 kg m-2 cm-1 ± 0.73) than Yungay (2.21 kg m-2 cm-1 ± 0.75), but with 0.043 g of water per 1 g of soil ± 0.03 comparable SW contents, while Yungay has 0.043 g ± 0.06. Thus we consider this site to display different growth conditions and ecological niches as compared to Yungay and therefore as promising candidate site for the identification of new species of radiation-resistant microorganisms, as the resistance against desiccation is paired with a distinct resistance to ionizing radiation due to efficient microbial DNA repair mechanisms (Mattimore et al., 1995). Soil samples were irradiated with high doses of gamma radiation up to 25 000 Gy. Surviving colonies were cultivated on a medium favoring the growth of Deinococcus-like species and their affiliation was determined using 16sRNA-Next Generation Sequencing. Here, we evaluate the hypothesis of ecological niching even at the most hyper-arid places of our planet on grounds of our recently identified site – with implications for the search for life in hyper-arid Martian regolith in future robotic space exploration missions such as ExoMars.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/118056/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Title:Searching new extremophilic microbial model systems for space exploration studies – data from a large-scale transect study in the Atacama Desert
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Boy, D.Leibniz Universität Hannover, Institut für Bodenkunde, Hannover, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Godoy, R.Universidad Austral de Chile, Instituto de Ciencias Ambientales & Evolutivas, Valdivia, ChileUNSPECIFIED
Guggenberger, G.Leibniz Universität Hannover, Institut für Bodenkunde, Hannover, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Moeller, R.Radiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (dlr), Cologne, Germany; ralf.moeller (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-2371-0676
Boy, J.Leibniz Universität Hannover, Institut für Bodenkunde, Hannover, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Date:2017
Journal or Publication Title:BIOspektrum - Das Magazin für Biowissenschaften - Abstractbook - Sonderausgabe
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Page Range:p. 140
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0947-0867
Status:Published
Keywords:space exploration etudies, extremophiles, model organisms for space exploration missions
Event Title:MICROBIOLOGY AND INFECTION 2017, 5th Joint Conference of the DGHM & VAAM, VAAM Annual Meeting 2017, 69th Annual Meeting of the DGHM
Event Location:Würzburg, Germany
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:05-08-March 2017
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:11 Jan 2018 13:41
Last Modified:31 Jul 2019 20:15

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