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Resistance of Microorganisms to Extreme Environmental Conditions and Its Contribution to Astrobiology

Author

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  • Pabulo Henrique Rampelotto

    () (1-Exobiology and Biosphere Laboratory, Southern Regional Space Research Center, National Institute for Space Research, P.O. Box 5021, 97105-900, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil
    2-Department of Biology, Federal University of Santa Maria, P.O. Box 5096, 97105-900, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil)

Abstract

In the last decades, substantial changes have occurred regarding what scientists consider the limits of habitable environmental conditions. For every extreme environmental condition investigated, a variety of microorganisms have shown that not only can they tolerate these conditions, but that they also often require these extreme conditions for survival. Microbes can return to life even after hundreds of millions of years. Furthermore, a variety of studies demonstrate that microorganisms can survive under extreme conditions, such as ultracentrifugation, hypervelocity, shock pressure, high temperature variations, vacuums, and different ultraviolet and ionizing radiation intensities, which simulate the conditions that microbes could experience during the ejection from one planet, the journey through space, as well as the impact in another planet. With these discoveries, our knowledge about the biosphere has grown and the putative boundaries of life have expanded. The present work examines the recent discoveries and the principal advances concerning the resistance of microorganisms to extreme environmental conditions, and analyzes its contributions to the development of the main themes of astrobiology: the origins of life, the search for extraterrestrial life, and the dispersion of life in the Universe.

Suggested Citation

  • Pabulo Henrique Rampelotto, 2010. "Resistance of Microorganisms to Extreme Environmental Conditions and Its Contribution to Astrobiology," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(6), pages 1-22, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:2:y:2010:i:6:p:1602-1623:d:8563
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    astrobiology; extremophiles; origins of life; Mars; Europa; panspermia;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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