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Informational polymers as unambiguous biomarkers for aqueous-based life

Carr, Christopher E. and Saboda, Kendall and Ruvkun, Gary and Zuber, Maria T. and Wassmann, Marko and Rettberg, Petra and Moeller, Ralf (2018) Informational polymers as unambiguous biomarkers for aqueous-based life. In: EANA 2018 - Abstractbook. EANA 2018, 24-28 September 2018, Berlin, Germany.

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Official URL: http://www.eana-net.eu/index.php?page=Conferences/EANA2018

Abstract

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)defines life as a “self-sustaining chemical System capable of Darwinian evolution,”yet a NASA-developed ladder of life detection suggests that measuring such evolution is not feasible within the resource constraints of currently-envisioned life detection missions. If true, such missions cannot strictly verify whether life beyond Earth exists. We propose to resolve this issue in two ways. First, we argue that it is possible to make this measurement. By way of example, we report measurement of evolution in Bacillus subtilis 168 subjected to UV exposure, made solely with a small portable nanopore-based single molecule sequencing device, which is broadly compatible with the constraints of life detection missions, especially for Mars. Detected genetic differences suggest an inherent lifestyle tradeoff between adaptation to oxidative stress and growth rates, consistent with an observed slow-growth phenotype. Second, we argue that we can be confident in detecting life without measuring Darwinian evolution per se. For example, amino acid abundance distributions and lipid carbon chain length distributions have previously been proposed as unambiguous biomarkers. Here we focus on informational polymers, e.g. nucleic acids, which form the basis for heredity that enables evolution in all known life. Indeed, long charged polymers may be universal features of aqueous-based life due to their ability to separate information storage from physicochemical properties. The goal to detect not only DNA and RNA, but related or unrelated polymers, will require further development of nascent technologies to enable a broad-based search for life on Mars, Enceladus, and Europa. Informational polymers, in combination with other“unambiguous” biomarkers,can provide a high confidence in detection of life as we know it or as we don’t know it.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/124455/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:Informational polymers as unambiguous biomarkers for aqueous-based life
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Carr, Christopher E.Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA and Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USAUNSPECIFIED
Saboda, KendallDepartment of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USAUNSPECIFIED
Ruvkun, GaryDepartment of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USAUNSPECIFIED
Zuber, Maria T.Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USAUNSPECIFIED
Wassmann, MarkoRadiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Rettberg, PetraRadiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany; petra.rettberg (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4439-2395
Moeller, RalfRadiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany; ralf.moeller (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-2371-0676
Date:27 September 2018
Journal or Publication Title:EANA 2018 - Abstractbook
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Status:Published
Keywords:"unambiguous" biomarkers
Event Title:EANA 2018
Event Location:Berlin, Germany
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:24-28 September 2018
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 - Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Strahlenbiologie (old)
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:10 Dec 2018 15:52
Last Modified:31 Jul 2019 20:22

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