Multimicrobial Kombucha Culture Tolerates Mars-Like Conditions Simulated on Low-Earth Orbit

Podolich, Olga; Kukharenko, Olga; Haidak, Andriy; Zaets, Iryna; Zaika, Leonid; Storozhuk, Olha; Palchikovska, Larysa; Orlovska, Iryna; Reva, Oleg; Borisova, Tatiana; Khirunenko, Ludmila; Sosnin, Mikhail; Rabbow, Elke; Kravchenko, Volodymyr; Skoryk, Mykola; Kremenskoy, Maksym; Demets, Rene; Olsson-Francis, Karen; Kozyrovska, Natalia and de Vera, Jean-Pierre Paul (2019). Multimicrobial Kombucha Culture Tolerates Mars-Like Conditions Simulated on Low-Earth Orbit. Astrobiology, 19(2) pp. 183–196.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2017.1746

Abstract

A kombucha multimicrobial culture (KMC) was exposed to simulated Mars-like conditions in low-Earth orbit (LEO). The study was part of the Biology and Mars Experiment (BIOMEX), which was accommodated in the European Space Agency's EXPOSE-R2 facility, outside the International Space Station. The aim of the study was to investigate the capability of a KMC microecosystem to survive simulated Mars-like conditions in LEO. During the 18-month exposure period, desiccated KMC samples, represented by living cellulose-based films, were subjected to simulated anoxic Mars-like conditions and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, as prevalent at the surface of present-day Mars. Postexposure analysis demonstrated that growth of both the bacterial and yeast members of the KMC community was observed after 60 days of incubation; whereas growth was detected after 2 days in the initial KMC. The KMC that was exposed to extraterrestrial UV radiation showed degradation of DNA, alteration in the composition and structure of the cellular membranes, and an inhibition of cellulose synthesis. In the “space dark control” (exposed to LEO conditions without the UV radiation), the diversity of the microorganisms that survived in the biofilm was reduced compared with the ground-based controls. This was accompanied by structural dissimilarities in the extracellular membrane vesicles. After a series of subculturing, the revived communities restored partially their structure and associated activities.

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