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Detection of living cells in stratospheric samples

Harris, Melanie J., Wickramasinghe, Nalin Chandra, Lloyd, David, Narlikar, J. V., Rajaratnam, P., Turner, Michael P., Al-Mufti, Shirwan, Wallis, Max K., Ramadurai, S. and Hoyle, Fred 2020. Detection of living cells in stratospheric samples. Presented at: International Symposium on Optical Science and Technology, San Diego, CA, US, 29 July - 3 August 2001. Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV. Proceedings SPIE, pp. 192-198. 10.1117/12.454758

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Air samples collected aseptically over tropical India at various stratospheric altitudes ranging from 20 to 41 km using cryosampler assemblies carried on balloons flown from Hyderabad have shown evidence of living microbial cells. Unambiguous evidence of living cells came from examining micropore filters on which the samples were recovered with the use of voltage sensitive lipophilic dyes that could detect the presents of active cells. Clumps of viable cells were found at all altitudes using this technique, and this conclusion was found to be consistent with images obtained from electron microscopy. Since the 41 km sample was collected well above the local tropopause, a prima facie case for a space incidence of these microorganisms is established. Further work on culturing, PCR analysis and isotopic analysis is in progress.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: SPIE
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2020 13:15

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