Daniel Keaney, Venkata V. B. Yallapragada, Liam O’Faolain, Ganga Chinna Rao Devarapu, Karen Finn, Brigid Lucey

Investigating Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Bioremediation through Microbial Action Using Raman Spectroscopy

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science

Sodium perchlorate is a toxic salt-based compound found both terrestrially, (due to pollution) and extraterrestrially on the surface of Mars. Perchlorate pollution poses a risk to agricultural-based activities as once it enters soils/waterways it can be passed through the food chain via bioaccumulation. The purpose of the current study was to observe the perchlorate reduction potential of putative candidate bioremediation strains; Escherichia coli 25922 and E. coli 9079, Paraburkholderia fungorum, Deinococcus radiodurans and Dechloromonas aromatica both independently and in co-cultures, when exposed to 3000mg/L (0.3%) sodium perchlorate. This was carried out in both a minimal medium environment and within an environment void of nutrients, using Raman spectroscopy to assess their potential for the bioremediation of Martian soils. The perchlorate reducing potential of all strains was 16% higher in reverse osmosis deionised water than in minimal medium, the former having a total absence of Nitrate. It was found that E. coli 25922 is a perchlorate reducer, which has not been previously described. Additionally, co-culturing of bacterial strains was found to have a higher bioremediation potential than individual strains. These findings suggest that not only could perchlorate pollution be remediated, but that the perchlorate composition of the Martian surface may support bioremediation microbial life, aiding in future colonisation.

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