A main factor hampering life in space is represented by high atomic number nuclei and energy (HZE) ions that constitute about 1% of the galactic cosmic rays. In the frame of the “STARLIFE” project, we accessed the Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator (HIMAC) facility of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) in Chiba, Japan. By means of this facility, the extremophilic species Haloterrigena hispanica and Parageobacillus thermantarcticus were irradiated with high LET ions (i.e., Fe, Ar, and He ions) at doses corresponding to long permanence in the space environment. The survivability of HZE-treated cells depended upon either the storage time and the hydration state during irradiation; indeed, dry samples were shown to be more resistant than hydrated ones. With particular regard to spores of the species P. thermantarcticus, they were the most resistant to irradiation in a water medium: an analysis of the changes in their biochemical fingerprinting during irradiation showed that, below the survivability threshold, the spores undergo to a germination-like process, while for higher doses, inactivation takes place as a consequence of the concomitant release of the core’s content and a loss of integrity of the main cellular components. Overall, the results reported here suggest that the selected extremophilic microorganisms could serve as biological model for space simulation and/or real space condition exposure, since they showed good resistance to ionizing radiation exposure and were able to resume cellular growth after long-term storage.

Effects of Ionizing Radiation and Long-Term Storage on Hydrated vs. Dried Cell Samples of Extremophilic Microorganisms

Di Donato Paola
2022

Abstract

A main factor hampering life in space is represented by high atomic number nuclei and energy (HZE) ions that constitute about 1% of the galactic cosmic rays. In the frame of the “STARLIFE” project, we accessed the Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator (HIMAC) facility of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) in Chiba, Japan. By means of this facility, the extremophilic species Haloterrigena hispanica and Parageobacillus thermantarcticus were irradiated with high LET ions (i.e., Fe, Ar, and He ions) at doses corresponding to long permanence in the space environment. The survivability of HZE-treated cells depended upon either the storage time and the hydration state during irradiation; indeed, dry samples were shown to be more resistant than hydrated ones. With particular regard to spores of the species P. thermantarcticus, they were the most resistant to irradiation in a water medium: an analysis of the changes in their biochemical fingerprinting during irradiation showed that, below the survivability threshold, the spores undergo to a germination-like process, while for higher doses, inactivation takes place as a consequence of the concomitant release of the core’s content and a loss of integrity of the main cellular components. Overall, the results reported here suggest that the selected extremophilic microorganisms could serve as biological model for space simulation and/or real space condition exposure, since they showed good resistance to ionizing radiation exposure and were able to resume cellular growth after long-term storage.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11367/100993
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