Not found on Earth,
These Are Highly Resistant To UV Rays
Isro has given India a fabulous
biology break. Its balloon experiments to understand
different layers of life have discovered three
new species of bacteria not found on Earth and
highly resistant to ultra-violet radiation in
the upper stratosphere.
One of them has been named
Janibacter hoylei after distinguishes astrophysicist
Fred Hoyle, the second Bacillus isronensis recognizing
Isro's contribution which led to its discovery
and the third Bacillus aryabhata after India's
celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata.
The experiment was conducted
using a 26.7 million cubic ft balloon carrying
a 459 kg payload soaked in 38 kg of liquid neon,
flown from the National Balloon Facility in
Hyderabad, operated by the Tata Institute of
Fundamental Research (TIFR).
The payload consisted of a
cryosampler containing 16 evacuated and sterilized
stainless steel probes. Throughout the flight,
the probes remained immersed in liquid neon
to create a cryopump effect.
These cylinders, after collecting
air samples from different heights ranging from
20 km to 41 km, were parachuted down and retrieved.
These were analyzed by scientists at the Centre
for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
as well as the National Centre for Cell Sciences
(NCCS), Pune for independent examination, ensuring
that both laboratories followed similar protocols
to achieve homogeneity of procedure and interpretation.
In all, 12 bacterial and six
fungal colonies were detected, nine of which,
based on 16S RNA gene sequence, showed greater
than 98% similarity with reported known species
on earth. Three bacterial colonies-PVAS-1, B3
W22 and B8 W22-totally new species. They had
significantly higher UV resistance compared
to their nearest phylogenetic neighbours.
This was ISRO's second such
experiment; the first one was in 2001. Even
though the first experiment had yielded positive
results, it was decided to repeat the experiment,
exercising extra care to ensure it was totally
free from any terrestrial contamination.