Experimental methods for studying microbial survival in extraterrestrial environments

Karen Olsson-Francis, Charles S. Cockell

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract

Microorganisms can be used as model systems for studying biological responses to extraterrestrial conditions; however, the methods for studying their response are extremely challenging. Since the first high altitude microbiological experiment in 1935 a large number of facilities have been developed for short- and long-term microbial exposure experiments. Examples are the BIOPAN facility, used for short-term exposure, and the EXPOSE facility aboard the International Space Station, used for long-term exposure. Furthermore, simulation facilities have been developed to conduct microbiological experiments in the laboratory environment A large number of microorganisms have been used for exposure experiments; these include pure cultures and microbial communities. Analyses of these experiments have involved both culture-dependent and independent methods. This review highlights and discusses the facilities available for microbiology experiments, both in space and in simulation environments. A description of the microorganisms and the techniques used to analyse survival is included. Finally we discuss the implications of microbiological studies for future missions and for space applications. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of microbiological methods
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Extraterrestrial environments
  • Extremophiles
  • Microbial response
  • SIMULATED MARTIAN ENVIRONMENT
  • BACILLUS-SUBTILIS SPORES
  • PLANETARY PROTECTION
  • SPACE ENVIRONMENT
  • ATMOSPHERIC ENTRY
  • BACTERIAL-SPORES
  • UV-RADIATION
  • TERRESTRIAL MICROORGANISMS
  • ARTIFICIAL METEORITES
  • METHANOGENIC ARCHAEA

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