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A Ratio of Spore to Viable Organisms: A Case Study of the JPL-SAF Cleanroom
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Author and Affiliation:
Hendrickson, Ryan(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, CA, United States)
Urbaniak, Camilla(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, CA, United States)
Malli Mohan, Ganesh Babu(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, CA, United States)
Aronson, Heidi(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, CA, United States)
Venkateswaran, Kasthuri(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, CA, United States)
Abstract: Spacecraft surfaces that are destined to land on potential life-harboring celestial bodies are required to be rigorously cleaned and continuously monitored for spore bioburden as a proxy for spacecraft cleanliness. The NASA standard assay (NSA), used for spacecraft bioburden estimates, specifically measures spores that are cultivable, aerobic, resistant to heat shock, and grow at 30 C in a nutrient-rich medium. Since the vast majority of microorganisms cannot be cultivated using the NSA, it is necessary to utilize state-of-the art molecular techniques to better understand the presence of all viable microorganisms, not just those measured with the NSA. In this study, the nutrient-deprived low biomass cleanrooms, where spacecraft are assembled, were used as a surrogate for spacecraft surfaces to measure the ratio of NSA spores in relation to the total viable microorganism population in order to make comparisons with the 2006 Space Studies Board (SSB) estimate of 1 spore per approximately 50,000 viable organisms. Ninety-eight surface wipe samples were collected from the Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF) cleanroom at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) over a 6-month period. The samples were processed and analyzed using classical microbiology along with molecular methodology. Traditional microbiology plating methods were used to determine the cultivable bacterial, fungal, and spore populations. Molecular assays were used to determine the total organisms (TO, dead and live) and the viable organisms (VO, live). The TO was measured using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays. The VO was measured using internal ATP, propidium monoazide (PMA)-qPCR, and flow cytometry (after staining for viable microorganisms) assays. Based on the results, it was possible to establish a ratio between spore counts and VO for each viability assay. The ATP-based spore to VO ratio ranged from 149-746, and the bacterial PMA-qPCR assay-based ratio ranged from 314-1,491 VO, per spore. The most conservative estimate came from fluorescent-assisted cell sorting (FACS), which estimated the ratio to be 12,091 VO per 1 NSA spore. Since archaeal (less than 1%) and fungal (approximately 2%) populations were negligible, the spore to VO ratios were based on bacterial population estimates. The most conservative ratio from this study can be used as a replacement for the SSB estimate on nutrient-deprived (oligotrophic) desiccated spacecraft surfaces, to estimate the VO from NSA measurements without utilizing state-of-the art molecular methods that are costly and require more biomass than is typically found on spacecraft surfaces.
Publication Date: Sep 01, 2017
Document ID:
20170011606
(Acquired Dec 14, 2017)
Subject Category: EXOBIOLOGY; LUNAR AND PLANETARY SCIENCE AND EXPLORATION
Report/Patent Number: JPL-Publ-17-3
Coverage: Final Report
Document Type: Technical Report
Contract/Grant/Task Num: NNN12AA01C; WBS 105749.02.07.02
Financial Sponsor: Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech.; Pasadena, CA, United States
Description: 68p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: Copyright; Public use permitted
NASA Terms: BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS; BIOMASS; CELESTIAL BODIES; EXTRATERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENTS; EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE; SPACECRAFT LANDING; SPACECRAFT STRUCTURES; SPORES; ADENOSINE TRIPHOSPHATE; ARCHAEBACTERIA; ASSAYING; FLUORESCENCE; FUNGI; MICROORGANISMS; THERMAL SHOCK
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