Algae survive extreme temperatures and cosmic radiation for two years

Algae survive extreme temperatures and cosmic radiation for two years

In a long-term experiment lasting two years, two varieties of algae survived in the space without any lasting adverse effects. Dr. Thomas Leya at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Potsdam, who headed a team of researchers for the project, knew from her experience of studying cryophilic algae, cyanobacteria, mosses, fungi, and bacteria found in Polar Regions that certain varieties of algae are not susceptible to extreme temperature fluctuations and radiation. However, with the intention of studying the effect of cosmic atmosphere on these algae, she undertook a project wherein two algae varieties – the green algal strain Nostoc sp. and blue-green algal strain Sphaerocystis sp. – were transported into space for a period of two years. With mere neutral-density filters, the algae endured the UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation apart from extreme low to high temperatures on the outside of the International Space Station without any damage. The team will conduct further study on the DNA of the algae to determine how it survives atmospheres that are detrimental to human DNA. According to the research team, these findings can help in the distant plans to reach and inhabit planet Mars as the algae can become a source of food and could be cultivated in the otherwise inhabitable conditions. Moreover, food industry and cosmetic industry can find multiple uses of these algae that are immune to radiation and are highly nutritious.

Read more in Science Daily.