Investigating the effects of simulated martian ultraviolet radiation on halococcus dombrowskii and other extremely halophilic archaebacteria

Sergiu Fendrihan, A. Bérces, Helmut Lammer, Maurizio Musso, G. Rontó, Tatjana K. Polacsek, Anita Holzinger, Christoph Kolb, Helga Stan-Lotter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The isolation of viable extremely halophilic archaea from 250-million-year-old rock salt suggests the possibility of their long-term survival under desiccation. Since halite has been found on Mars and in meteorites, haloarchaeal survival of martian surface conditions is being explored. Halococcus dombrowskii H4 DSM 14522T was exposed to UV doses over a wavelength range of 200-400 nm to simulate martian UV flux. Cells embedded in a thin layer of laboratory-grown halite were found to accumulate preferentially within fluid inclusions. Survival was assessed by staining with the LIVE/DEAD kit dyes, determining colony-forming units, and using growth tests. Halite-embedded cells showed no loss of viability after exposure to about 21 kJ/m2, and they resumed growth in liquid medium with lag phases of 12 days or more after exposure up to 148 kJ/m2. The estimated D37 (dose of 37 % survival) for Hcc. dombrowskii was ≥ 400 kJ/m2. However, exposure of cells to UV flux while in liquid culture reduced D37 by 2 orders of magnitude (to about 1 kJ/m2); similar results were obtained with Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 and Haloarcula japonica. The absorption of incoming light of shorter wavelength by color centers resulting from defects in the halite crystal structure likely contributed to these results. Under natural conditions, haloarchaeal cells become embedded in salt upon evaporation; therefore, dispersal of potential microscopic life within small crystals, perhaps in dust, on the surface of Mars could resist damage by UV radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-112
Number of pages9
JournalAstrobiology
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Fingerprint

Halococcus
archaebacteria
Archaea
ultraviolet radiation
halite
Radiation
Mars
wavelengths
Haloarcula
cells
dosage
Meteoroids
Salts
mars
Halobacterium
Halobacterium salinarum
salts
Desiccation
liquids
wavelength

Keywords

  • Desiccation
  • Halite fluid inclusions
  • Halococcus dombrowskii
  • LIVE/DEAD staining
  • Simulated martian UV radiation
  • UV transmittance and reflectance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Investigating the effects of simulated martian ultraviolet radiation on halococcus dombrowskii and other extremely halophilic archaebacteria. / Fendrihan, Sergiu; Bérces, A.; Lammer, Helmut; Musso, Maurizio; Rontó, G.; Polacsek, Tatjana K.; Holzinger, Anita; Kolb, Christoph; Stan-Lotter, Helga.

In: Astrobiology, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2009, p. 104-112.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Fendrihan, Sergiu ; Bérces, A. ; Lammer, Helmut ; Musso, Maurizio ; Rontó, G. ; Polacsek, Tatjana K. ; Holzinger, Anita ; Kolb, Christoph ; Stan-Lotter, Helga. / Investigating the effects of simulated martian ultraviolet radiation on halococcus dombrowskii and other extremely halophilic archaebacteria. In: Astrobiology. 2009 ; Vol. 9, No. 1. pp. 104-112.
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