Mariano Battistuzzi - Astrobiological studies on cyanobacteria as a mean to improve the success of future space missions

Astrobiological studies on cyanobacteria as a mean to improve the success of future space
missions

by Mariano Battistuzzi (Università di Padova)

Abstract: Recently, rocky terrestrial exoplanets orbiting the Habitable Zone (HZ) of M-dwarfs have raised in popularity across the astrobiological community as places where to search for life as we know it, thanks to the longevity and abundance of their host stars. These exoplanets however are too far for us to directly assess the presence of life in situ with probes, therefore all the investigations will have to be done through remote sensing, searching for biosignatures. Here on Earth, the most robust ones are produced by Oxygenic Photosynthetic Organisms (OPOs), that by harnessing the light coming from our Sun, became the primary producers of our planet. It is not clear however how these kind of organisms would behave if irradiated with an M-dwarf starlight, which differs from the Sun’s light both in spectrum and luminosity. Theoretical discussions on the possibility of Oxygenic Photosynthesis in exoplanets orbiting the HZ of M-dwarfs are going on, but experiments testing OPOs under simulated M-dwarf light conditions lag behind. Through a collaboration in Padova between the department of Biology, INAF-OAPD and CNR-IFN, and using innovative instrumentation, we performed growth and photosynthetic analyses on OPOs (cyanobacteria) exposed to an M-dwarf simulated light spectrum and to exoplanetary atmospheres. The possibility of oxygenic photosynthesis in these worlds, and the possible generation of biosignatures will be discussed.

Contact: Michele Maris

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Inizio evento 20-10-2021 11:30
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