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MARSBOX: FUNGAL SPORES SURVIVE MARS-LIKE CONDITIONS ABOARD STRATOSPHERIC BALLOON FLIGHT

Cortesao, Marta and Siems, Katharina and Beblo-Vranesevic, Kristina and Lane, Michael and James, Leandro and Johnson, Prital and Smith, David. J. and Moeller, Ralf (2021) MARSBOX: FUNGAL SPORES SURVIVE MARS-LIKE CONDITIONS ABOARD STRATOSPHERIC BALLOON FLIGHT. COSPAR 2021, 28. Januar - 4. Februar 2021, Sydney, Australia and Virtual Event (Hybrid).

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Abstract

The ability of terrestrial life to survive in the Martian environment is of particular interest for both planetary protection measures and for future colonization endeavors. Many studies have examined bacterial spore survival and decontamination, however, little is known about fungal spore resistance properties. To understand the survival potential of fungal spores to Mars conditions, Aspergillus niger spores were sent on a 6.5-hour balloon flight to Earth’s stratosphere ( 38 km), where UV radiation and temperature conditions were similar to levels typical for equatorial Mars. Spores were carried inside the TREX unit – a sealed aluminum container filled with a Mars gas mixture – and flown aboard the MARSBOx balloon payload. Two different spore concentrations were tested on the TREX, exposed as dried samples in small quartz discs (20 µL). Discs were set in two different layers: a top layer exposed to direct UV radiation [M(+)UV, in a total dose of 1500 J/m²], and a bottom layer that was shielded from radiation [M(-)UV]. After the flight, fungal spore survival was determined by plating on agar and determining colony forming units (CFU/ml). A germination rate was calculated based on light microscopy analysis and revival metabolism assay was completed with resazurin dye. Results show that A. niger spores can survive Mars-like conditions [M(+)UV] for the 6.5 htime period tested in the middle stratosphere with only a 2-log reduction and slight delays in germination and revival metabolism compared to unflown lab controls. When shielded from UV, but exposed to Mars gas, pressure and temperature [M(-)UV] spore survival and germination were not affected. This study provides valuable insights on whether fungal spores could survive on Mars, and underscores the need for longer-duration exposure studies in Earth’s stratosphere to better characterize microbial resistance to space-related conditions.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/141302/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:MARSBOX: FUNGAL SPORES SURVIVE MARS-LIKE CONDITIONS ABOARD STRATOSPHERIC BALLOON FLIGHT
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Cortesao, MartaRadiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany; Marta.Cortesao (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-6603-1211
Siems, KatharinaRadiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany.https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7349-0846
Beblo-Vranesevic, KristinaRadiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany; kristina.beblo (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-4834-7121
Lane, MichaelNASA Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, United States; michael.a.lane (at) nasa.govUNSPECIFIED
James, LeandroNASA Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, United States; leandro.m.james (at) nasa.govUNSPECIFIED
Johnson, PritalNASA Kennedy Space Center, 32899, United States; prital.j.johnson (at) nasa.govUNSPECIFIED
Smith, David. J.NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, United States; david.j.smith-3 (at) nasa.govUNSPECIFIED
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:3 February 2021
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Status:Published
Keywords:MARSBOX, fungal spore resistance, Mars conditions, balloon flight to Earth’s stratosphere
Event Title:COSPAR 2021
Event Location:Sydney, Australia and Virtual Event (Hybrid)
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:28. Januar - 4. Februar 2021
Organizer:COSPAR - COMMITTEE ON SPACE RESEARCH
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 - Project ISS LIFE 2.0
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:12 Mar 2021 10:43
Last Modified:14 Apr 2021 15:50

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