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Adv Space Res. 1995;16(8):119-29.

ERA-experiment "Space Biochemistry".

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Institut fur Biochemie, Fachbereich Chemie und Pharmazie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat, Mainz, Germany.


The general goal of the experiment was to study the response of anhydrobiotic (metabolically dormant) microorganisms (spores of Bacillus subtilis, cells of Deinococcus radiodurans, conidia of Aspergillus species) and cellular constituents (plasmid DNA, proteins, purple membranes, amino acids, urea) to the extremely dehydrating conditions of open space, in some cases in combination with irradiation by solar UV-light. Methods of investigation included viability tests, analysis of DNA damages (strand breaks, DNA-protein cross-links) and analysis of chemical effects by spectroscopic, electrophoretic and chromatographic methods. The decrease in viability of the microorganisms was as expected from simulation experiments in the laboratory. Accordingly, it could be correlated with the increase in DNA damages. The purple membranes, amino acids and urea were not measurably effected by the dehydrating condition of open space (in the dark). Plasmid DNA, however, suffered a significant amount of strand breaks under these conditions. The response of these biomolecules to high fluences of short wavelength solar UV-light is very complex. Only a brief survey can be given in this paper. The data on the relatively good survival of some of the microorganisms call for strict observance of COSPAR Planetary Protection Regulations during interplanetary space missions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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