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Exposure to low Earth orbit of an extreme-tolerant cyanobacterium as a contribution to lunar astrobiology activities

Billi, D. and Mosca, C. and Fagliarone, C. and Napoli, A. and Verseux, C. and Baque, M. and de Vera, J. P. (2019) Exposure to low Earth orbit of an extreme-tolerant cyanobacterium as a contribution to lunar astrobiology activities. International Journal of Astrobiology. Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/S1473550419000168. ISSN 1473-5504.

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By investigating the survival and the biomarker detectability of a rock-inhabiting cyanobacterium, Chroococcidiopsis sp. CCMEE 029, the BIOMEX space experiment might contribute to a future exploitation of the Moon as a test-bed for key astrobiology tasks such as the testing of life-detection technologies and the study of life in space. Post-flight analyses demonstrated that the mixing of dried cells with sandstone and a lunar regolith simulant provided protection against space UV radiation. During the space exposure, dried cells not mixed with minerals were killed by 2.05 × 102 kJ m-2 of UV radiation, while cells mixed with sandstone or lunar regolith survived 1.59 × 102 and 1.79 × 102 kJ m-2, respectively. No differences in survival occurred among cells mixed and not mixed with minerals and exposed to space conditions in the dark; this finding suggests that space vacuum and 0.5 Gy of ionizing radiation did not impair the cells presence in space. The genomic DNA of dead cells was severely damaged but still detectable with PCR amplification of a short target, thus suggesting that short sequences should be targeted in a PCR-based approach when searching for traces of life. The enhanced stability of genomic DNA of dried cells mixed with minerals and exposed to space indicates that DNA might still be detectable after prolonged periods, possibly up to millions of years in microbes shielded by minerals. Overall, the BIOMEX results contribute to future experiments regarding the exposure of cells and their biomarkers to deep space conditions in order to further test the lithopanspermia hypothesis, the biomarker stability and the microbial endurance, with implications for planetary protection and to determine if the Moon has been contaminated during past human missions.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/128538/
Document Type:Article
Title:Exposure to low Earth orbit of an extreme-tolerant cyanobacterium as a contribution to lunar astrobiology activities
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Billi, D.Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, ItalyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Mosca, C.department of biology, laboratory of astrobiology and molecular biology of cyanobacteria from extreme environments, university of rome tor vergata, rome, italy.UNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Fagliarone, C.Department of Biology, Laboratory of Astrobiology and Molecular Biology of Cyanobacteria from Extreme Environments, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.UNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Napoli, A.Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, ItalyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Verseux, C.University of Bremen, Center of AppliedUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Baque, M.UNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6696-6030UNSPECIFIED
de Vera, J. P.DLR, German Aerospace Center, Management and Infrastructure, Astrobiological Laboratories, Berlin, Germany.https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9530-5821UNSPECIFIED
Date:18 July 2019
Journal or Publication Title:International Journal of Astrobiology
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Keywords:Biomarkers; BIOMEX; cyanobacteria; ISS; low Earth orbit; Lunar astrobiology
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 - Vorhaben Planetary Evolution and Life (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Leitungsbereich PF
Deposited By: de Vera, Dr. Jean Pierre Paul
Deposited On:15 Aug 2019 13:48
Last Modified:06 Sep 2019 15:15

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