Detection of Macromolecules in Desert Cyanobacteria Mixed with a Lunar Mineral Analogue After Space Simulations.
Baque, Mickael ; Verseux, Cyprien ; Rabbow, Elke ; et al. ; - ASI Sponsor
Oct - 2014
DOI: 10.1007/s11084-014-9367-4
ISSN : 1573-0875 ;
journal : Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere: the journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life
type: Article Journal

In the context of future exposure missions in Low Earth Orbit and possibly on the Moon, two desert strains of the cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis, strains CCMEE 029 and 057, mixed or not with a lunar mineral analogue, were exposed to fractionated fluencies of UVC and polychromatic UV (200-400 nm) and to space vacuum. These experiments were carried out within the framework of the BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment) project, which aims at broadening our knowledge of mineral-microorganism interaction and the stability/degradation of their macromolecules when exposed to space and simulated Martian conditions. The presence of mineral analogues provided a protective effect, preserving survivability and integrity of DNA and photosynthetic pigments, as revealed by testing colony-forming abilities, performing PCR-based assays and using confocal laser scanning microscopy. In particular, DNA and pigments were still detectable after 500 kJ/m(2) of polychromatic UV and space vacuum (10(-4) Pa), corresponding to conditions expected during one-year exposure in Low Earth Orbit on board the EXPOSE-R2 platform in the presence of 0.1 \% Neutral Density (ND) filter. After exposure to high UV fluencies (800 MJ/m(2)) in the presence of minerals, however, altered fluorescence emission spectrum of the photosynthetic pigments were detected, whereas DNA was still amplified by PCR. The present paper considers the implications of such findings for the detection of biosignatures in extraterrestrial conditions and for putative future lunar missions.

keywords : BIOMEX-Cyano,BOSS-Cyano