Microbial space travel on a molecular scale: How extremophilic bacteria survive in space for one year

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Galactic cosmic and solar UV radiation, extreme vacuum, temperature fluctuations: how can microbes exposed to these challenges in space survive? Scientists investigated how the space-surviving microbes could physically survive the transfer from one celestial body to another.
Since the dawn of space exploration, humankind has been fascinated by survival of terrestrial life in outer space. Outer space is a hostile environment for any form of life, but some extraordinarily resistant microorganisms can survive. Such extremophiles may migrate between planets and distribute life across the Universe, underlying the panspermia hypothesis or interplanetary transfer of life.
The extremophilic bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans withstands the drastic influence of outer space: galactic cosmic and solar UV radiation, extreme vacuum, temperature fluctuations, desiccation, freezing, and microgravity. A recent study examined the influence of outer space on this unique microbe on a molecular level. After 1 year of exposure to low Earth orbit (LEO) outside the International Space Station during the Tanpopo space Mission, researches found that D. radiodurans escaped morphological damage and produced numerous outer membrane vesicles. A multifaceted protein and genomic responses were initiated to alleviate cell stress, helping the bacteria to repair DNA damage and defend against reactive oxygen species. Processes underlying transport and energy …

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