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Proceedings Paper

Development of an autofluorescence spectral database for the identification and classification of microbial extremophiles
Author(s): Justin Davis; Hillari Howard; Richard B. Hoover; Chandran R. Sabanayagam
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Paper Abstract

Extremophiles are microorganisms that have adapted to severe conditions that were once considered devoid of life. The extreme settings in which these organisms flourish on Earth resemble many extraterrestrial environments. Identification and classification of extremophiles in situ (without the requirement for excessive handling and processing) can provide a basis for designing remotely operated instruments for extraterrestrial life exploration. An important consideration when designing such experiments is to prevent contamination of the environments. We are developing a reference spectral database of autofluorescence from microbial extremophiles using long-UV excitation (408 nm). Aromatic compounds are essential components of living systems, and biological molecules such as aromatic amino acids, nucleotides, porphyrins and vitamins can also exhibit fluorescence under long-UV excitation conditions. Autofluorescence spectra were obtained from a light microscope that additionally allowed observations of microbial geometry and motility. It was observed that all extremophiles studied displayed an autofluorescence peak at around 470 nm, followed by a long decay that was species specific. The autofluorescence database can potentially be used as a reference to identify and classify past or present microbial life in our solar system.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 September 2010
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 7819, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII, 78190O (7 September 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.863994
Show Author Affiliations
Justin Davis, Delaware State Univ. (United States)
Hillari Howard, Delaware State Univ. (United States)
Richard B. Hoover, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Chandran R. Sabanayagam, Delaware State Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7819:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Paul C. W. Davies, Editor(s)

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