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. 2012 May;12(5):498-507.
doi: 10.1089/ast.2011.0772.

Survival of Spores of the UV-resistant Bacillus Subtilis Strain MW01 After Exposure to Low-Earth Orbit and Simulated Martian Conditions: Data From the Space Experiment ADAPT on EXPOSE-E

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Survival of Spores of the UV-resistant Bacillus Subtilis Strain MW01 After Exposure to Low-Earth Orbit and Simulated Martian Conditions: Data From the Space Experiment ADAPT on EXPOSE-E

Marko Wassmann et al. Astrobiology. .

Abstract

In the space experiment "Molecular adaptation strategies of microorganisms to different space and planetary UV climate conditions" (ADAPT), bacterial endospores of the highly UV-resistant Bacillus subtilis strain MW01 were exposed to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and simulated martian surface conditions for 559 days on board the European Space Agency's exposure facility EXPOSE-E, mounted outside the International Space Station. The survival of B. subtilis MW01 spores from both assays (LEO and simulated martian conditions) was determined by a colony-formation assay after retrieval. It was clearly shown that solar extraterrestrial UV radiation (λ≥110 nm) as well as the martian UV spectrum (λ≥200 nm) was the most deleterious factor applied; in some samples only a few spore survivors were recovered from B. subtilis MW01 spores exposed in monolayers. However, if shielded from solar irradiation, about 8% of MW01 spores survived in LEO conditions, and 100% survived in simulated martian conditions, compared to the laboratory controls. The results demonstrate the effect of shielding against the high inactivation potential of extraterrestrial solar UV radiation, which limits the chances of survival of even the highly UV-resistant strain of B. subtilis MW01 in the harsh environments of outer space and the martian surface.

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