TU Berlin

Environmental MicrobiologyBIOLogy and Mars EXperiment (BIOMEX)

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"BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment" (BIOMEX)

The stability of biogenic organic compounds and the potential of organisms to survive under Mars and space conditions are subjects of the "BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment" (BIOMEX). The project has two scientific objectives:

1. Definition of biosignatures: database development based on Raman analysis data of exposed samples.

2. Resistance capability of organisms and biomolecules against conditions of space and the martian surface; these data shall contribute to clarifying whether transport of life in space is possible (theory of Lithopanspermia) and if life could exist on Mars.

BIOMEX takes part in the space experiment EXPOSE-R2 of the European Space Agency (ESA) at the International Space Station (ISS). Samples such as pigments, cell wall components, lichens, archaea, bacteria, cyanobacteria, snow algae, black fungi and bryophytes are being subjected to conditions of space or the martian surface in the course of this experiment. The capability of iron bacteria to survive simulated martian conditions and survival strategies are investigated at the Environmental Microbiology group. Multispecies biofilms associated to Mars-analog minerals are of special interest in this context. The effects of stress factors like desiccation, UV and cosmic radiation on bacteria are determined by detecting survival and activity of cells. Measurement of cell activity is accomplished by FISH (Fluorescence-in-situ-Hybridization) and staining methods like CTC and LIVE/DEAD assay. In addition, growth and physiological tests are carried out.

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Funded by BMWI.

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