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The Ground-Based BIOMEX Experiment Verification Tests for Life Detection on Mars

Pacelli, Claudia and Cassaro, Alessia and Catanzaro, Ilaria and Baqué, Mickael and Maturilli, Alessandro and Böttger, Ute and Rabbow, Elke and de Vera, Jean-Pierre Paul and Onofri, Silvano (2021) The Ground-Based BIOMEX Experiment Verification Tests for Life Detection on Mars. Life, 11 (11), p. 1212. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). doi: 10.3390/life11111212. ISSN 2075-1729.

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Official URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/11/11/1212


The success of an astrobiological search for life campaign on Mars, or other planetary bodies in the Solar System, relies on the detectability of past or present microbial life traces, namely, biosignatures. Spectroscopic methods require little or no sample preparation, can be repeated almost endlessly, and can be performed in contact or even remotely. Such methods are therefore ideally suited to use for the detection of biosignatures, which can be confirmed with supporting instrumentation. Here, we discuss the use of Raman and Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopies for the detection and characterization of biosignatures from colonies of the fungus Cryomyces antarcticus, grown on Martian analogues and exposed to increasing doses of UV irradiation under dried conditions. The results report significant UV-induced DNA damage, but the non-exceeding of thresholds for allowing DNA amplification and detection, while the spectral properties of the fungal melanin remained unaltered, and pigment detection and identification was achieved via complementary analytical techniques. Finally, this work found that fungal cell wall compounds, likely chitin, were not degraded, and were still detectable even after high UV irradiation doses. The implications for the preservation and detection of biosignatures in extraterrestrial environments are discussed.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/145551/
Document Type:Article
Title:The Ground-Based BIOMEX Experiment Verification Tests for Life Detection on Mars
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Pacelli, ClaudiaUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-5113-4293UNSPECIFIED
Catanzaro, IlariaDepartment of Ecological and Biological Sciences, University of Tuscia, Largo dell’Università snc, 01100 Viterbo, Italy;UNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Baqué, MickaelUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6696-6030UNSPECIFIED
Maturilli, AlessandroUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4613-9799UNSPECIFIED
Rabbow, ElkeUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9301-2021UNSPECIFIED
de Vera, Jean-Pierre PaulUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9530-5821UNSPECIFIED
Date:9 November 2021
Journal or Publication Title:Life
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:p. 1212
Publisher:Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Keywords:biosignature; dark pigments; polysaccharides; polychromatic radiation; simulated conditions; Mars; life-detection
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 - Planetary Evolution and Life, R - Project ISS LIFE 2.0
Location: Berlin-Adlershof , Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Space Operations and Astronaut Training > User center for space experiments (MUSC)
Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Laboratories
Institute of Optical Sensor Systems > Space Instruments
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:12 Nov 2021 07:30
Last Modified:12 Nov 2021 07:30

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