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
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.