Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars

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Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars. / Bak, Ebbe Norskov; Larsen, Michael G. ; Moeller, Ralf; Nissen, Silas B. ; Jensen, Lasse Riis; Nørnberg, Per; Jensen, Svend Knak; Finster, Kai.

In: Frontiers in Microbiology, 12.09.2017.

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Bak, Ebbe Norskov ; Larsen, Michael G. ; Moeller, Ralf ; Nissen, Silas B. ; Jensen, Lasse Riis ; Nørnberg, Per ; Jensen, Svend Knak ; Finster, Kai. / Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars. In: Frontiers in Microbiology. 2017.

Bibtex

@article{91c0622c39184f5d97e921c81f929ea4,
title = "Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars",
abstract = "The habitability of Mars is determined by the physical and chemical environment. The effect of low water availability, temperature, low atmospheric pressure and strong UV radiation has been extensively studied in relation to the survival of microorganisms. In addition to these stress factors, it was recently found that silicates exposed to simulated saltation in a Mars-like atmosphere can lead to a production of reactive oxygen species. Here, we have investigated the stress effect induced by quartz and basalt abraded in Mars-like atmospheres by examining the survivability of the three microbial model organisms Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus subtilis, and Deinococcus radiodurans upon exposure to the abraded silicates. We found that abraded basalt that had not been in contact with oxygen after abrasion killed more than 99% of the vegetative cells while endospores were largely unaffected. Exposure of the basalt samples to oxygen after abrasion led to a significant reduction in the stress effect. Abraded quartz was generally less toxic than abraded basalt. We suggest that the stress effect of abraded silicates may be caused by a production of reactive oxygen species and enhanced by transitionmetal ions in the basalt leading to hydroxyl radicals through Fenton-like reactions. The low survivability of the usually highly resistant D. radiodurans indicates that the effect of abraded silicates, as is ubiquitous on the Martian surface, would limit the habitability of Mars as well as the risk of forward contamination. Furthermore, the reactivity of abraded silicates could have implications for future manned missions, although the lower effect of abraded silicates exposed to oxygen suggests that the effects would be reduced in human habitats.",
keywords = "habitability, erosion, reactive oxygen species, forward contamination, stress factors, saltation, toxicity, microorganisms",
author = "Bak, {Ebbe Norskov} and Larsen, {Michael G.} and Ralf Moeller and Nissen, {Silas B.} and Jensen, {Lasse Riis} and Per N{\o}rnberg and Jensen, {Svend Knak} and Kai Finster",
year = "2017",
month = sep,
day = "12",
doi = "10.3389/fmicb.2017.01709",
language = "English",
journal = "Frontiers in Microbiology",
issn = "1664-302X",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S.A",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Silicates Eroded under Simulated Martian Conditions Effectively Kill Bacteria—A Challenge for Life on Mars

AU - Bak, Ebbe Norskov

AU - Larsen, Michael G.

AU - Moeller, Ralf

AU - Nissen, Silas B.

AU - Jensen, Lasse Riis

AU - Nørnberg, Per

AU - Jensen, Svend Knak

AU - Finster, Kai

PY - 2017/9/12

Y1 - 2017/9/12

N2 - The habitability of Mars is determined by the physical and chemical environment. The effect of low water availability, temperature, low atmospheric pressure and strong UV radiation has been extensively studied in relation to the survival of microorganisms. In addition to these stress factors, it was recently found that silicates exposed to simulated saltation in a Mars-like atmosphere can lead to a production of reactive oxygen species. Here, we have investigated the stress effect induced by quartz and basalt abraded in Mars-like atmospheres by examining the survivability of the three microbial model organisms Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus subtilis, and Deinococcus radiodurans upon exposure to the abraded silicates. We found that abraded basalt that had not been in contact with oxygen after abrasion killed more than 99% of the vegetative cells while endospores were largely unaffected. Exposure of the basalt samples to oxygen after abrasion led to a significant reduction in the stress effect. Abraded quartz was generally less toxic than abraded basalt. We suggest that the stress effect of abraded silicates may be caused by a production of reactive oxygen species and enhanced by transitionmetal ions in the basalt leading to hydroxyl radicals through Fenton-like reactions. The low survivability of the usually highly resistant D. radiodurans indicates that the effect of abraded silicates, as is ubiquitous on the Martian surface, would limit the habitability of Mars as well as the risk of forward contamination. Furthermore, the reactivity of abraded silicates could have implications for future manned missions, although the lower effect of abraded silicates exposed to oxygen suggests that the effects would be reduced in human habitats.

AB - The habitability of Mars is determined by the physical and chemical environment. The effect of low water availability, temperature, low atmospheric pressure and strong UV radiation has been extensively studied in relation to the survival of microorganisms. In addition to these stress factors, it was recently found that silicates exposed to simulated saltation in a Mars-like atmosphere can lead to a production of reactive oxygen species. Here, we have investigated the stress effect induced by quartz and basalt abraded in Mars-like atmospheres by examining the survivability of the three microbial model organisms Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus subtilis, and Deinococcus radiodurans upon exposure to the abraded silicates. We found that abraded basalt that had not been in contact with oxygen after abrasion killed more than 99% of the vegetative cells while endospores were largely unaffected. Exposure of the basalt samples to oxygen after abrasion led to a significant reduction in the stress effect. Abraded quartz was generally less toxic than abraded basalt. We suggest that the stress effect of abraded silicates may be caused by a production of reactive oxygen species and enhanced by transitionmetal ions in the basalt leading to hydroxyl radicals through Fenton-like reactions. The low survivability of the usually highly resistant D. radiodurans indicates that the effect of abraded silicates, as is ubiquitous on the Martian surface, would limit the habitability of Mars as well as the risk of forward contamination. Furthermore, the reactivity of abraded silicates could have implications for future manned missions, although the lower effect of abraded silicates exposed to oxygen suggests that the effects would be reduced in human habitats.

KW - habitability

KW - erosion

KW - reactive oxygen species

KW - forward contamination

KW - stress factors

KW - saltation

KW - toxicity

KW - microorganisms

U2 - 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01709

DO - 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01709

M3 - Journal article

C2 - 28955310

JO - Frontiers in Microbiology

JF - Frontiers in Microbiology

SN - 1664-302X

M1 - 1709

ER -