Title: Nanopore-based instruments as biosensors for future planetary missions
Authors : Rezzonico, Fabio
Published in : Astrobiology
Volume(Issue) : 14
Issue : 4
Pages : 344
Pages to: 351
Publisher / Ed. Institution : Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers
Issue Date: 2014
Language : Englisch / English
Subjects : DNA; Sequencing; Genome; Astrobiology
Subject (DDC) : 570: Biologie
Abstract: Data from automated orbiters and landers have dashed humankind's hopes of finding complex life-forms elsewhere in the Solar System. The focus of exobiological research was thus forced to shift from the detection of life through simple visual imaging to complex biochemical experiments aimed at the detection of microbial activity. Searching for biosignatures over interplanetary distances is a formidable task and poses the dilemma of what are the proper experiments that can be performed on-site to maximize the chances of success if extraterrestrial life is present but not evident. Despite their astonishing morphological diversity, all known organisms on Earth share the same basic molecular architecture; thus the vast majority of our detection and identification techniques are b(i)ased on Terran biochemistry. There is, however, a distinct possibility that life may have emerged elsewhere by using other molecular building blocks, a fact that is likely to make the outcome of most of the current molecular biological and biochemical life-detection protocols difficult to interpret if not completely ineffective. Nanopore-based sensing devices allow the analysis of single molecules, including the sequence of informational biopolymers such as DNA or RNA, by measuring current changes across an electrically resistant membrane when the analyte flows through an embedded transmembrane protein or a solid-state nanopore. Under certain basic assumptions about their physical properties, this technology has the potential to discriminate and possibly analyze biopolymers, in particular genetic information carriers, without prior detailed knowledge of their fundamental chemistry and is sufficiently portable to be used for automated analysis in planetary exploration, all of which makes it the ideal candidate for the search for life signatures in remote watery environments such as Mars, Europa, or Enceladus.
Departement: Life Sciences und Facility Management
Organisational Unit: Institut für Umwelt und Natürliche Ressourcen (IUNR)
Publication type: Beitrag in wissenschaftlicher Zeitschrift / Article in scientific Journal
DOI : 10.1089/ast.2013.1120
ISSN: 1531-1074
URI: https://digitalcollection.zhaw.ch/handle/11475/1706
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Life Sciences und Facility Management

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