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Biomarker preservation in Antarctic sandstone after space exposure outside the International Space Station

Cassaro, Alessia and Pacelli, Claudia and Gevi, Federica and Selbmann, Laura and Zucconi, L. and Baque, Mickael and Timperio, Annamaria and Böttger, Ute and de Vera, Jean Pierre Paul and Onofri, Silvano (2019) Biomarker preservation in Antarctic sandstone after space exposure outside the International Space Station. European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) 2019, 3-6 September 2019, Orléans, France.

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Abstract

Cryptoendolithic microbial communities, discovered in the extremely cold, hyper-arid McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica (Friedmann 1982), the most similar terrestrial environments to Mars surface (Wynn-Williams and Edwards 2000; Onofri et al., 2004), have been considered as a candidate in supporting the search of life in Mars exploration. In such harsh conditions, microorganisms grow in airspaces among mineral grains and show some adaptations, as the accumulation of protective pigments and compatible solutes, assuring their survival. In the frame of the Lichen and Fungi experiment (LIFE, P.I. Silvano Onofri; Onofri et al. 2012, 2015), small samples of these communities, were exposed to space, in the EXPOSE-E facility for 1.5 years, with an exposition to vacuum (10-7 to 10-4 Pa) (Horneck et al., 2010), galactic cosmic radiation (≤190mGy) (Berger et al., 2012), and the full spectrum of solar extraterrestrial electromagnetic radiation to which cryptoendolithic microorganisms demonstrated to survive (Scalzi et al., 2012). The search for trace of extant or extinct life is one of the main goals of the future space mission beyond Earth. The future rover missions ExoMars 2020 (ESA-Roscomos) and Mars 2020 (NASA) are exploring chemical and biological indicators of life, called biomarkers. A good biomarker must have a biogenic origin and thus must unequivocally be identified as possible trace of life. The detection of biomarkers on Mars was the aim of BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars Experiment) project, in which has been investigated the alteration of different biomarkers, after exposure to space and Mars-like conditions outside the International Space Station. In this contest, the aim of this work was to characterize fungal biomarkers from these exposed rock samples, with different approaches: i) Raman spectroscopy and InfraRed analyses, which has been considered excellent tools for the detection of inorganic and organic molecules, such as microbial pigments and ii) -omics approaches, as lipidomic and metabolomic techniques, performed to detect biological macromolecules and to determine their stability after space exposure. The focus of lipidomics and metabolomics has been on biomarker discovery, with the aim of identifying metabolites that are correlated with environmental exposures. The results suggest that microbial molecules can be detected through different techniques. In particular, our attention was focused on pigments, such as melanin and carotenoids that maintain their stability also after 1.5 years of space exposure. These results are of importance for the upcoming life-detection missions on Mars finalized for the search for past, extant or extinct life outside the Earth.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/130002/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Title:Biomarker preservation in Antarctic sandstone after space exposure outside the International Space Station
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Cassaro, AlessiaUniversity of Tuscia, Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB), Viterbo, ItalyUNSPECIFIED
Pacelli, ClaudiaUniversity of Tuscia, Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB), Viterbo, ItalyUNSPECIFIED
Gevi, FedericaUniversity of Tuscia, Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB), Viterbo, ItalyUNSPECIFIED
Selbmann, LauraDepartment of Ecological and Biological Sciences, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy.UNSPECIFIED
Zucconi, L.Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB), University of Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.UNSPECIFIED
Baque, MickaelMickael.Baque (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6696-6030
Timperio, AnnamariaUniversity of Tuscia, Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB), Viterbo, ItalyUNSPECIFIED
Böttger, UteUte.Boettger (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
de Vera, Jean Pierre Pauljean-pierre.devera (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Onofri, SilvanoDepartment of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB), University of Tuscia, Largo Dell’Universitá Snc, 01100UNSPECIFIED
Date:2019
Refereed publication:No
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Status:Published
Keywords:Fungi, biomarkers, Raman spectroscopy, Mars, Space exposure experiments, ISS
Event Title:European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) 2019
Event Location:Orléans, France
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:3-6 September 2019
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Science and Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Planetary Evolution and Life
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Optical Sensor Systems > Terahertz and Laser Spectroscopy
Institute of Planetary Research > Leitungsbereich PF
Deposited By: Baqué, Dr. Mickael
Deposited On:30 Oct 2019 08:21
Last Modified:21 Jan 2020 11:35

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