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Detection of living cells in stratospheric samples

Harris, Melanie Jane, Wickramasinghe, Nalin Chandra, Lloyd, David, Narlikar, J. V., Rajaratnam, P., Turner, Michael P., Al-Mufti, Shirwan, Wallis, Max Klim, Ramadurai, S. and Hoyle, Fred 2002. Detection of living cells in stratospheric samples. Presented at: Instruments, methods, and missions for astrobiology IV, San Diego, CA, 29-30 July 2001. Published in: Hoover, Richard B., Levin, Gilbert V., Paepe, Roland R. and Rozanov, Alexei Y. eds. Instruments, methods, and missions for astrobiology IV : 29-30 July, 2001, San Diego, [California] USA. SPIE Proceedings Series , vol. 4495. Bellingham, WA: Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers, 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
Uncontrolled Keywords: Panspermia; cometary dust; stratosphere; microorganisms
Publisher: Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers
ISBN: 9780819442093
ISSN: 0277-786X
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Last Modified: 10 Oct 2017 15:50

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