Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Survivability in Outer Space: A Systems Biology Approach

Tetyana Milojevic, Wolfram Weckwerth

Since the dawn of space exploration, the survivability of terrestrial life in outer space conditions has attracted enormous attention. Space technology has enabled the development of advanced space exposure facilities to investigate in situ responses of microbial life to the stress conditions of space during interplanetary transfer. Significant progress has been made toward the understanding of the effects of space environmental factors, e.g., microgravity, vacuum and radiation, on microorganisms exposed to real and simulated space conditions. Of extreme importance is not only knowledge of survival potential of space-exposed microorganisms, but also the determination of mechanisms of survival and adaptation of predominant species to the extreme space environment, i.e., revealing the molecular machinery, which elicit microbial survivability and adaptation. Advanced technologies in -omics research have permitted genome-scale studies of molecular alterations of space-exposed microorganisms. A variety of reports show that microorganisms grown in the space environment exhibited global alterations in metabolic functions and gene expression at the transcriptional and translational levels. Proteomic, metabolomic and especially metabolic modeling approaches as essential instruments of space microbiology, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering are rather underrepresented. Here we summarized the molecular space-induced alterations of exposed microorganisms in terms of understanding the molecular mechanisms of microbial survival and adaptation to drastic outer space environment.

Department of Biophysical Chemistry, Large-Instrument Facility for Mass Spectrometry in Life Sciences, Functional and Evolutionary Ecology
Frontiers in Microbiology
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106022 Microbiology
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