. The Planetary Protection discipline at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory develops and implements procedures to prevent both forward and backward contamination between the Earth and solar system bodies. However, there will always be some microorganisms that will be resistant to the strictest of sterilization methods. In order understand the microorganisms found on spacecraft during assembly, and to rapidly identify them, a mass spectrometry approach was developed. As an experimental approach, a custom database was created for a subset of microorganisms in the Planetary Protection Archive. In order to make the database as accurate and efficient as possible, several different procedures have been developed on how to identify and classify each isolate within the database. Building upon previous research in the area, we designed a method characterizing revived isolates with known 16SrRNA gene sequence OTUs (Operational Taxonomy Units) to create MSPs (Mass Spectral Profiles) and RTCs (Real Time Classifications) using MALDI-TOF Mass Spectroscopy. We will use these profiles to enhance the Planetary Protection custom classification database, for immediate and future investigations.

This work was carried out at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.


Bacteriology | Bioinformatics | Biotechnology | Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology | Microbiology


Wayne Schubert

Lab site

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1340110 and is made possible with contributions from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevron Corporation, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and from the host research center. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely those of the authors. The STAR Program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in STEM Education on behalf of the California State University system.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/329


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