The effects of cosmic radiation and UV radiation on the survival and growth of microalgae are being investigated by scientists from the Faculty of Agriculture of the Mendel University in Brno. Last year, experts sent a probe into the stratosphere carrying several dozen samples of these microorganisms. The first results now show that the stay in space had a long-term effect on the algae. In the future, scientists would like to use the new findings to select resistant species that astronauts could use, for example, to produce biofuel or to purify water.
“The great thing about microalgae is that they have multiple uses. People are familiar with chlorella, for example, which is used as a dietary supplement and contains proteins, vitamins, antioxidants, B12 and other beneficial things. But there are many more possibilities in space,” said Katarína Molnárová from the Space Agri Technologies Laboratory at Faculty Agriculture of the MENDELU.
Among the benefits of algae is that they produce oxygen, and some can also be the basis of biofuel production or an aid in water purification. “I would also like to work on breaking down toxic substances using microalgae. For example, the soil on Mars contains large amounts of perchlorates, which are toxic salts that cause thyroid disorders. When grown on such soil, salts get into the plant’s body, and for astronauts the consumption of these crops would represent a significant health risk,” explains Molnárová. However, according to the scientist, it would theoretically be possible to break down perchlorates with the help of microalgae. “Of course, we must not forget the use of microalgae as classic food supplements,” she supplied.
In an experimental flight last fall, scientists sent around 70 samples of various microalgae into the stratosphere. The probe remained at an altitude of 35 kilometers for about an hour. Microalgae were affected by cosmic radiation, UV radiation, but also by temperature changes. “Roughly 5 percent of the samples did not survive the journey into space, which we consider a good result,” said the scientist.
In the laboratory, the scientists then cultured some of the surviving microalgae and froze some for further analysis. After two weeks of cultivation, spectral analysis was performed. “We found that even after those two weeks there was repeated antioxidant activity, which means that the samples were still recovering. Even such a short exposure to space conditions was able to mark the microalgae for several generations,” pointed out Molnárová. Currently, the experts plan to focus on molecular studies and RNA isolation.
At the same time, the scientists are already planning further research that could follow up on the new findings. “Basically, there are two ways. These researches would then have a real, practical use not only in space,” assesses Molnárová. The first option is to create a kind of catalog of microalgae that would summarize how different species respond to space conditions. “We would describe that, for example, this species produces large amounts of lipids in space, so we will use it to make biofuel. Another produces a strong antioxidant, so it will be a suitable supplement to the diet of astronauts,” added the scientist.
The second of the ways is based on the description of gene expression. In the future, experts would like to use genetic engineering and, in quotes, breed the perfect space algae. “Once we know what a certain gene is, we can edit it so that the space algae, for example, produces even more lipids, antioxidants and so on,” said Molnárová.
Scientists would also like to participate in further flights of stratospheric balloons as well as longer space flights with samples staying in orbit.
For more information contact Mgr. Katarína Molnárová, email@example.com, +421 944 304 866, Space Agri Technologies Laboratory, Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry of AF MENDELU.
On 19 May, the Review Commission of the National Accreditation Office revoked the decision of the NAU Council to terminate the authorization to implement three doctoral study programmes at the Faculty of Business Administration and discontinued the…31. 5. 2023
The national round of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2023 was won by students…The second year of the national round of the global competition Stockholm Junior Water Prize was won by Lenka Lemberková from the Gymnasium Jihlava and Adam Kejda from OZS Jihlava. The expert jury appreciated their work, in which they focused on an…25. 5. 2023
MENDEL perceives artificial intelligence tools as an opportunity for developmentMendel University in Brno expresses support for rational, conscious, and ethical use of artificial intelligence by students and sees the role of teachers as mentors for proper utilization of information tools. At the same time, the university's…19. 5. 2023
LDF MENDELU becomes a centre for forest ecosystem research thanks to the…A cutting-edge interdisciplinary research group will be established under the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology to conduct research on forest ecosystems under the leadership of leading scientist, Professor Douglas L. Godbold. The team will…10. 5. 2023
MENDELU celebrates a year of sustainability with the Corporate Social…The year 2023 will be marked by sustainability for Mendel University in Brno. In connection with this, it will launch the Sustainable MENDELU website, which clearly brings together all the university's activities related to sustainability. The…26. 4. 2023
Seniors and students brought closer to one another thanks to the…The Intergenerational University has been implemented by the MENDELU Institute of Lifelong Learning for three years. From the beginning, it has focused on connecting generations within the family. Grandparents come together with their grandchildren,…17. 4. 2023
A new MENDELU project aims to bring large carnivores and humans together across…Mendel University in Brno is launching a new international project Interreg Central Europe - LECA, which will support the coexistence of humans and large carnivores in the Carpathian region. The project aims to harmonise international monitoring of…13. 4. 2023
Landscape architects from ZF MENDELU succeed in international competitionLandscape architecture students have advanced to the semi-finals of the international Streetlife Design Competition. A mixed team from the Faculty of Horticulture at MENDELU and the Faculty of Architecture at BUT worked on a design located on the…23. 3. 2023
The new Water in the Landscape Training Centre organises Water days: an event…At the end of January, the Water in the Landscape Training Centre was established at Mendel University in Brno. Its aim is to promote innovative approaches in water management education. This week, the centre is organising Water Days, an event that…21. 3. 2023
The LIFE WILD WOLF project seeks a balance between wolves and humans in Europe…Understanding the interactions between humans and wolves in the cultural European landscape and preventing potential critical situations is the aim of a unique international project launched by Mendel University in Brno. A large multidisciplinary…14. 3. 2023