Title

Effects of Simulated Mars Conditions on the Survival and Growth of Escherichia coli and Serratia liquefaciens

Authors

Authors

B. J. Berry; D. G. Jenkins;A. C. Schuerger

Comments

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Abbreviated Journal Title

Appl. Environ. Microbiol.

Keywords

SPACECRAFT ASSEMBLY FACILITY; MARTIAN SOIL; TERRESTRIAL MICROORGANISMS; BACILLUS-SUBTILIS; HYDROGEN-PEROXIDE; UV-IRRADIATION; BACTERIA; ENVIRONMENTS; RADIATION; SURFACES; Biotechnology & Applied Microbiology; Microbiology

Abstract

Escherichia coli and Serratia liquefaciens, two bacterial spacecraft contaminants known to replicate under low atmospheric pressures of 2.5 kPa, were tested for growth and survival under simulated Mars conditions. Environmental stresses of high salinity, low temperature, and low pressure were screened alone and in combination for effects on bacterial survival and replication, and then cells were tested in Mars analog soils under simulated Mars conditions. Survival and replication of E. coli and S. liquefaciens cells in liquid medium were evaluated for 7 days under low temperatures (5, 10, 20, or 30 degrees C) with increasing concentrations (0, 5, 10, or 20%) of three salts (MgCl(2), MgSO(4), NaCl) reported to be present on the surface of Mars. Moderate to high growth rates were observed for E. coli and S. liquefaciens at 30 or 20 degrees C and in solutions with 0 or 5% salts. In contrast, cell densities of both species generally did not increase above initial inoculum levels under the highest salt concentrations (10 and 20%) and the four temperatures tested, with the exception that moderately higher cell densities were observed for both species at 10% MgSO(4) maintained at 20 or 30 degrees C. Growth rates of E. coli and S. liquefaciens in low salt concentrations were robust under all pressures (2.5, 10, or 101.3 kPa), exhibiting a general increase of up to 2.5 orders of magnitude above the initial inoculum levels of the assays. Vegetative E. coli cells were maintained in a Mars analog soil for 7 days under simulated Mars conditions that included temperatures between 20 and -50 degrees C for a day/night diurnal period, UVC irradiation (200 to 280 nm) at 3.6 W m(-2) for daytime operations (8 h), pressures held at a constant 0.71 kPa, and a gas composition that included the top five gases found in the martian atmosphere. Cell densities of E. coli failed to increase under simulated Mars conditions, and survival was reduced 1 to 2 orders of magnitude by the interactive effects of desiccation, UV irradiation, high salinity, and low pressure (in decreasing order of importance). Results suggest that E. coli may be able to survive, but not grow, in surficial soils on Mars.

Journal Title

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Volume

76

Issue/Number

8

Publication Date

1-1-2010

Document Type

Article

Language

English

First Page

2377

Last Page

2386

WOS Identifier

WOS:000276280100001

ISSN

0099-2240

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