Archaeal diversity analysis of spacecraft assembly clean rooms.

Research paper by Christine C Moissl, James C JC Bruckner, Kasthuri K Venkateswaran

Indexed on: 09 Jan '08Published on: 09 Jan '08Published in: The ISME Journal


One of the main tasks of NASA's planetary protection program is to prevent the forward contamination of extraterrestrial environments with Earth life, and in turn preserve other planets and the integrity of future life detection missions. Despite information regarding bacterial diversity in NASA's clean rooms, little is known about the presence of Archaea. Archaeal community analysis of spacecraft-associated surfaces is important, as they are considered by some to represent terrestrial life most capable of surviving on Mars. The first insights into the archaeal diversity of clean rooms where spacecraft assembled are attempted. Nucleic acid sequences clustering with uncultivable Archaea within the Eury- and Crenarchaeota were retrieved from 8 of 26 samples collected from several spacecraft assembly clean rooms. Due to their potential capability to survive and proliferate in Martian conditions, screening for Archaea on spacecraft surfaces and instruments that are associated with future life detection missions may be necessary.