Microbial space travel on a molecular scale

November 04, 2020

Since the dawn of space exploration, humankind has been fascinated by survival of terrestrial life in outer space. Outer space is a hostile environment for any form of life, but some extraordinarily resistant microorganisms can survive. Such extremophiles may migrate between planets and distribute life across the Universe, underlying the panspermia hypothesis or interplanetary transfer of life.

The extremophilic bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans withstands the drastic influence of outer space: galactic cosmic and solar UV radiation, extreme vacuum, temperature fluctuations, desiccation, freezing, and microgravity. A recent study examined the influence of outer space on this unique microbe on a molecular level. After 1 year of exposure to low Earth orbit (LEO) outside the International Space Station during the Tanpopo space Mission, researches found that D. radiodurans escaped morphological damage and produced numerous outer membrane vesicles. A multifaceted protein and genomic responses were initiated to alleviate cell stress, helping the bacteria to repair DNA damage and defend against reactive oxygen species. Processes underlying transport and energy status were altered in response to space exposure. D. radiodurans used a primordial stress molecule polyamine putrescine as a reactive oxygen species scavenger during regeneration from space exposure.

"These investigations help us to understand the mechanisms and processes through which life can exist beyond Earth, expanding our knowledge how to survive and adapt in the hostile environment of outer space. The results suggest that survival of D. radiodurans in LEO for a longer period is possible due to its efficient molecular response system and indicate that even longer, farther journeys are achievable for organisms with such capabilities" says Tetyana Milojevic, a head of Space Biochemistry group at the University of Vienna and a corresponding author of the study.

Together with the colleagues from Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science (Japan), Research Group Astrobiology at German Aerospace Center (DLR, Cologne), Vienna Metabolomics Centre (ViMe) at the University of Vienna and Center for Microbiome Research at Medical University Graz, researches answered the question not only till which extend but how extremophilic microbes can tolerate drastic space conditions.
-end-
Publication in Microbiome:
D. Kölbl, E. Rabbow, P. Rettberg, M. Mora, C. Moissl-Eichinger, W. Weckwerth, A. Yamagishi, T. Milojevic "Molecular repertoire of Deinococcus radiodurans after 1 year of exposure outside the International Space Station within the Tanpopo mission." Microbiome 8, 150 (2020).

https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00927-5

University of Vienna

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.