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Microbially-Enhanced Vanadium Mining and Bioremediation Under Micro- and Mars Gravity on the International Space Station

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  • Charles S. Cockell, University of Edinburgh
  • ,
  • Rosa Santomartino, University of Edinburgh
  • ,
  • Kai Finster
  • Annemiek C. Waajen, University of Edinburgh
  • ,
  • Natasha Nicholson, University of Edinburgh
  • ,
  • Claire Marie Loudon, University of Edinburgh
  • ,
  • Lorna J. Eades, University of Edinburgh
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  • Ralf Moeller, German Aerospace Center
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  • Petra Rettberg, German Aerospace Center
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  • Felix M. Fuchs, German Aerospace Center, Ruhr University Bochum
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  • Rob Van Houdt, Belgian Nuclear Research Center
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  • Natalie Leys, Belgian Nuclear Research Center
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  • Ilse Coninx, Belgian Nuclear Research Center
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  • Jason Hatton, ESTEC
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  • Luca Parmitano, ESTEC
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  • Jutta Krause, ESTEC
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  • Andrea Koehler, ESTEC
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  • Nicol Caplin, ESTEC
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  • Lobke Zuijderduijn, ESTEC
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  • Alessandro Mariani, Kayser Italia S.r.l.
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  • Stefano Pellari, Kayser Italia S.r.l.
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  • Fabrizio Carubia, Kayser Italia S.r.l.
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  • Giacomo Luciani, Kayser Italia S.r.l.
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  • Michele Balsamo, Kayser Italia S.r.l.
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  • Valfredo Zolesi, Kayser Italia S.r.l.
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  • Jon Ochoa, ESTEC, Space Application Services NV/SA
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  • Pia Sen, Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey, Newark
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  • James A.J. Watt, University of Edinburgh
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  • Jeannine Doswald-Winkler, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
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  • Magdalena Herová, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture
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  • Bernd Rattenbacher, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture
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  • Jennifer Wadsworth, NASA Ames Research Center
  • ,
  • R. Craig Everroad, NASA Ames Research Center
  • ,
  • René Demets, ESTEC

As humans explore and settle in space, they will need to mine elements to support industries such as manufacturing and construction. In preparation for the establishment of permanent human settlements across the Solar System, we conducted the ESA BioRock experiment on board the International Space Station to investigate whether biological mining could be accomplished under extraterrestrial gravity conditions. We tested the hypothesis that the gravity (g) level influenced the efficacy with which biomining could be achieved from basalt, an abundant material on the Moon and Mars, by quantifying bioleaching by three different microorganisms under microgravity, simulated Mars and Earth gravitational conditions. One element of interest in mining is vanadium (V), which is added to steel to fabricate high strength, corrosion-resistant structural materials for buildings, transportation, tools and other applications. The results showed that Sphingomonas desiccabilis and Bacillus subtilis enhanced the leaching of vanadium under the three gravity conditions compared to sterile controls by 184.92 to 283.22%, respectively. Gravity did not have a significant effect on mean leaching, thus showing the potential for biomining on Solar System objects with diverse gravitational conditions. Our results demonstrate the potential to use microorganisms to conduct elemental mining and other bioindustrial processes in space locations with non-1 × g gravity. These same principles apply to extraterrestrial bioremediation and elemental recycling beyond Earth.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer641387
TidsskriftFrontiers in Microbiology
Vol/bind12
Antal sider15
ISSN1664-302X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
We thank Laetitia Pichevin for ICP-MS analysis of the basalt substrate. We also thank the European Space Agency (ESA) for offering the flight opportunity. A special thanks to the dedicated ESA/ESTEC teams, Kayser Italia S.r.l., and the USOC BIOTESC for the development, integration and operation effort. We are thankful to the UK Space Agency (UKSA) for the national support to the project, NASA Kennedy for their support in the experiment integration prior to the SpaceX Falcon 9 CSR-18 rocket launch, particularly Kamber Scott and Anne Currin, and NASA Ames for hosting the ground control experiment. We also thank SpaceX and Elon Musk for launching our mining experiment into space. Funding. CC and RS were funded by United Kingdom Science and Technology Facilities Council under grant ST/R000875/1. RM, FF, and PR were supported by the DLR grant ?DLR-FuE-Projekt ISS LIFE, Programm RF-FuW, Teilprogramm 475.? FF was also supported by the Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School at DLR. RV and NL received financial support for this study from Belspo and ESA through the PRODEX EGEM/Biorock project contract (PEA 4000011082). AW was funded by NERC Doctoral Training Partnership grant (NE/L002558/1) and PCDS (Principal?s Career Development Scholarship).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Cockell, Santomartino, Finster, Waajen, Nicholson, Loudon, Eades, Moeller, Rettberg, Fuchs, Van Houdt, Leys, Coninx, Hatton, Parmitano, Krause, Koehler, Caplin, Zuijderduijn, Mariani, Pellari, Carubia, Luciani, Balsamo, Zolesi, Ochoa, Sen, Watt, Doswald-Winkler, Herová, Rattenbacher, Wadsworth, Everroad and Demets.

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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