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Microbial analysis in space: Modular device for biological experiments in microgravity

Kallapur, S and Dikshit, R and Dey, A and Nandi, A and Singh, V and Viswanathan, K and Kumar, A (2021) Microbial analysis in space: Modular device for biological experiments in microgravity. In: Acta Astronautica, 188 . pp. 473-478.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.08.016


Biological experiments on bacteria in extra-terrestrial environments have recently gained increased importance in the context of space exploration and the human space programme. Here, we demonstrate a modular self-contained device, based on the lab-on-a-chip (LoC) paradigm, for performing miniaturized biological experiments in microgravity or outer space environments. The device is designed to incubate microscopic organisms; in the present work it was employed to incubate bacteria via a suitable actuation mechanism and measure bacterial activity over long term by periodic querying, sensing and data transmission/storage. Growth is measured using optical density measurements using an on-board LED/photo-diode pair. The modular design enables several simultaneous experimental runs arranged in individual cartridges, each containing multiple experiments in separate cassettes. This allows for statistical significance and in-built redundancy in case of remote failure. We use this system to study the growth pattern of Sporosarcina pasteurii, a spore-forming bacteria widely explored for its capability to induce calcite precipitation. Growth in the device was confirmed by continuous monitoring of optical density (OD), as well as post log-phase optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Additionally, the performance of the device was evaluated at multiple temperatures, pressures and under different device orientations, and found to be unchanged within experimental error. Given its modular structure, the proposed platform can be easily adapted as a biological payload for self-contained LoC based studies of other microorganisms in microgravity environments. © 2021

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Acta Astronautica
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to Elsevier Ltd
Keywords: Calcite; Density (optical); Density measurement (optical); Lab-on-a-chip; Microgravity; Microgravity processing; Scanning electron microscopy, Bacterial growth; Biological experiments; Microbial analysis; Microbially induced calcite precipitation; Modular device; Optical-; Payload; Space explorations; Sporosarcinum pasteurii; Terrestrial environments, Bacteria
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Molecular Reproduction, Development & Genetics
Division of Mechanical Sciences > Mechanical Engineering
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2021 07:56
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2021 07:56
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/69736

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