Isolation of Radiation-Resistant Bacteria from Mars Analog Antarctic Dry Valleys by Preselection, and the Correlation between Radiation and Desiccation Resistance

Musilova, M., Wright, G., Ward, J.M. and Dartnell, L.R. 2015. Isolation of Radiation-Resistant Bacteria from Mars Analog Antarctic Dry Valleys by Preselection, and the Correlation between Radiation and Desiccation Resistance. Astrobiology. 15 (12), pp. 1076-1090. https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2014.1278

TitleIsolation of Radiation-Resistant Bacteria from Mars Analog Antarctic Dry Valleys by Preselection, and the Correlation between Radiation and Desiccation Resistance
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMusilova, M.
Wright, G.
Ward, J.M.
Dartnell, L.R.
Abstract

Extreme radiation–resistant microorganisms can survive doses of ionizing radiation far greater than are present in the natural environment. Radiation resistance is believed to be an incidental adaptation to desiccation resistance, as both hazards cause similar cellular damage. Desert soils are, therefore, promising targets to prospect for new radiation-resistant strains. This is the first study to isolate radiation-resistant microbes by using gamma-ray exposure preselection from the extreme cold desert of the Antarctic Dry Valleys (a martian surface analogue). Halomonads, identified by 16S rRNA gene sequencing, were the most numerous survivors of the highest irradiation exposures. They were studied here for the first time for both their desiccation and irradiation survival characteristics. In addition, the association between desiccation and radiation resistance has not been investigated quantitatively before for a broad diversity of microorganisms. Thus, a meta-analysis of scientific literature was conducted to gather a larger data set. A strong correlation was found between desiccation and radiation resistance, indicating that an increase in the desiccation resistance of 5 days corresponds to an increase in the room-temperature irradiation survival of 1 kGy. Irradiation at −79°C (representative of average martian surface temperatures) increases the microbial radiation resistance 9-fold. Consequently, the survival of the cold-, desiccation-, and radiation-resistant organisms isolated here has implications for the potential habitability of dormant or cryopreserved life on Mars.

KeywordsExtremophiles
Halomonas sp.
Antarctica
Mars
Ionizing radiation
Cosmic rays
JournalAstrobiology
Journal citation15 (12), pp. 1076-1090
ISSN1531-1074
Year2015
PublisherMary Ann Liebert
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2014.1278
Publication dates
Published18 Dec 2015

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