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2006 Annual Science Report

Michigan State University Reporting  |  JUL 2005 – JUN 2006

Executive Summary

Low temperature is a predominant environmental characteristic of interstellar space, asteroids, comets, and of course, our solar system, including most of the planets and their satellites. An understanding of the impacts that low temperature has on the responses and evolution of biological organisms is, therefore, integral to our knowledge of Astrobiology. Toward this end, we are exploring multiple aspects of microbial adaptation to low temperature. The basic objectives of one line of investigation—Genomic Analysis of Permafrost Bacteria—include identifying genes and proteins that enable Arctic and Antarctic permafrost bacteria to inhabit subfreezing environments. These studies include determining how gene expression in permafrost bacteria is affected by low temperature and other environmental conditions associated with the permafrost as well as conditions that “hitchhiker” bacteria might encounter during travel through space on natural objects or spacecraft. In a second line of investigation—Bacterial Adaptation to Low Temperature—we are directly ... Continue reading.

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