Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 253–262

LIFE Experiment: Isolation of Cryptoendolithic Organisms from Antarctic Colonized Sandstone Exposed to Space and Simulated Mars Conditions on the International Space Station

Authors

    • Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB)University of Tuscia
  • Laura Selbmann
    • Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB)University of Tuscia
  • Laura Zucconi
    • Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB)University of Tuscia
  • Elke Rabbow
    • German Aerospace CentreInstitute of Aerospace Medicine
  • Gerda Horneck
    • German Aerospace CentreInstitute of Aerospace Medicine
  • Patrizia Albertano
    • Department of BiologyUniversity of Rome “Tor Vergata”
  • Silvano Onofri
    • Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB)University of Tuscia
Astrobiology

DOI: 10.1007/s11084-012-9282-5

Cite this article as:
Scalzi, G., Selbmann, L., Zucconi, L. et al. Orig Life Evol Biosph (2012) 42: 253. doi:10.1007/s11084-012-9282-5

Abstract

Desiccated Antarctic rocks colonized by cryptoendolithic communities were exposed on the International Space Station (ISS) to space and simulated Mars conditions (LiFE—Lichens and Fungi Experiment). After 1.5 years in space samples were retrieved, rehydrated and spread on different culture media. Colonies of a green alga and a pink-coloured fungus developed on Malt-Agar medium; they were isolated from a sample exposed to simulated Mars conditions beneath a 0.1 % T Suprasil neutral density filter and from a sample exposed to space vacuum without solar radiation exposure, respectively. None of the other flight samples showed any growth after incubation. The two organisms able to grow were identified at genus level by Small SubUnit (SSU) and Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) rDNA sequencing as Stichococcus sp. (green alga) and Acarospora sp. (lichenized fungal genus) respectively. The data in the present study provide experimental information on the possibility of eukaryotic life transfer from one planet to another by means of rocks and of survival in Mars environment.

Keywords

Antarctic colonized rocksEXPOSE-EInternational space stationLithopanspermiaLichens and Fungi Experiment

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012