Survival and Adaptation of the Thermophilic Species Geobacillus thermantarcticus in Simulated Spatial Conditions
Astrobiology studies the origin and evolution of life on Earth and in the universe. According to the panspermia theory, life on Earth could have emerged from bacterial species transported by meteorites, that were able to adapt and proliferate on our planet. Therefore, the study of extremophiles, i.e. bacterial species able to live in extreme terrestrial environments, can be relevant to Astrobiology studies. In this work we described the ability of the thermophilic species Geobacillus thermantarcticus to survive after exposition to simulated spatial conditions including temperature's variation, desiccation, X-rays and UVC irradiation. The response to the exposition to the space conditions was assessed at a molecular level by studying the changes in the morphology, the lipid and protein patterns, the nucleic acids. G. thermantarcticus survived to the exposition to all the stressing conditions examined, since it was able to restart cellular growth in comparable levels to control experiments carried out in the optimal growth conditions. Survival was elicited by changing proteins and lipids distribution, and by protecting the DNA's integrity.