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Proceedings Paper

Microbiological methodology in astrobiology
Author(s): S. S. Abyzov; L. M. Gerasimenko; R. B. Hoover; I. N. Mitskevich; A. L. Mulyukin; M. N. Poglazova; A. Y. Rozanov
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Paper Abstract

Searching for life in astromaterials to be delivered from the future missions to extraterrestrial bodies is undoubtedly related to studies of the properties and signatures of living microbial cells and microfossils on Earth. The Antarctic glacier and Earth permafrost habitats, where living microbial cells preserved viability for millennia years due to entering the anabiotic state, are often regarded as terrestrial analogs of Martian polar subsurface layers. For the future findings of viable microorganisms in samples from extraterrestrial objects, it is important to use a combined methodology that includes classical microbiological methods, plating onto nutrient media, direct epifluorescence and electron microscopy examinations, detection of the elemental composition of cells, PCR and FISH methods. Of great importance is to ensure authenticity of microorganisms (if any in studied samples) and to standardize the protocols used to minimize a risk of external contamination. Although the convincing evidence of extraterrestrial microbial life will may come from the discovery of living cells in astromaterials, biomorphs and microfossils must also be regarded as a target in search of life evidence bearing in mind a scenario that living microorganisms had not been preserved and underwent mineralization. Regarding the vital importance of distinguishing between biogenic and abiogenic signatures and between living and fossil microorganisms in analyzed samples, it is worthwhile to use previously developed approaches based on electron microscopy examinations and analysis of elemental composition of biomorphs in situ.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 September 2005
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 5906, Astrobiology and Planetary Missions, 59060A (22 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.618565
Show Author Affiliations
S. S. Abyzov, Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology (Russia)
L. M. Gerasimenko, Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology (Russia)
R. B. Hoover, NASA National Space Science and Technology Ctr. (United States)
I. N. Mitskevich, Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology (Russia)
A. L. Mulyukin, Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology (Russia)
M. N. Poglazova, Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology (Russia)
A. Y. Rozanov, Paleontological Institute (Russia)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5906:
Astrobiology and Planetary Missions
Richard B. Hoover; G. Randall Gladstone; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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