Bacterium That Survived A Year In Space

As time passes, humans are gathering more and more knowledge about the solar system. The most important achievement for us now is to develop the system to survive in the outer space. Outer space limits the survival of any form of life but few microorganisms can survive. Scott Kelly who spent a year in the International Space Station (ISS) has described to us the difficulties faced in space in 2015.

Panspermia hypothesis suggests, microorganisms that can live in the extreme conditions of outer space is said to be traveling between planets by meteorites, comets, and spacecraft and distribute life in the universe.

Bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans that survived a exposure to the lower earth orbit
Image Source – Universität Wien

It would be a very big achievement to survive outside the protection of the ISS, galactic cosmic and solar UV radiation, extreme vacuum, temperature fluctuations, desiccation, freezing, and microgravity in space and it has been recently achieved by a  bacterium named Deinococcus radiodurans. It spent a year in the Lower Earth orbit (LEO) outside the ISS in a specially made platform. The study has been published in microbiome journal.

Tetyana Milojevic corresponding author of the study said “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 study observed the effect of outer space on this microbe at a molecular level. Researchers concluded that the Deinococcus radiodurans in the Tanpopo Space Mission did not have morphological damage and produced numerous outer membrane vesicles.  The team of researchers is not sure why the vesicles came along but several assumptions are put into it.

To decrease the cell stress multifaceted protein and genomic responses are processed into it which helped the bacteria heal the DNA damage and defend against reactive oxygen species. The methods involving transport and energy condition was modified in with the space exposure.

Tetyana Milojevic also said, “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.”

Along with the researchers from the 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, the research gave a conclusion how extremophilic microbes can survive the extreme conditions of the space.

This type of research helps us to know whether bacteria may live on other places in space which will help us to travel further in our solar system and Interstellar space.

Source – Universität Wien

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