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Proceedings Paper

Microbiological study of the Murchison CM2 meteorite
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Paper Abstract

In 1864, Louis Pasteur attempted to cultivate living microorganisms from pristine samples of the Orgueil CI1 carbonaceous meteorite. His results were negative and never published, but recorded it in his laboratory notebooks. At that time, only aerobic liquid or agar-based organic reach media were used, as his research on anaerobes had just started. In our laboratory the Murchison CM2 carbonaceous meteorite was selected to expand on these studies for microbiological study by cultivation on anaerobic mineral media. Since the surface could have been more easily contaminated, interior fragments of a sample of the Murchison meteorite were extracted and crushed under sterile conditions. The resulting powder was then mixed in anoxic medium and injected into Hungate tubes containing anaerobic media with various growth substrates at different pH and salinity and incubated at different temperatures. The goal of the experiments was to determine if living cells would grow from the material of freshly fractured interior fragments of the stone. If any growth occurred, work could then be carried out to assess the nature of the environmental contamination by observations of the culture growth (rates of speed and biodiversity); live/dead fluorescent staining to determine contamination level and DNA analysis to establish the microbial species present. In this paper we report the results of that study.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 October 2012
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 8521, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XV, 852105 (15 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.929815
Show Author Affiliations
Elena V. Pikuta, Athens State Univ. (United States)
Richard B. Hoover, The Univ. of Buckingham (United Kingdom)
Athens State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8521:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XV
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Paul C. W. Davies, Editor(s)

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