Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach

ISSN: 2332-2519

Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach
Make the best use of Scientific Research and information from our 700+ peer reviewed, Open Access Journals that operates with the help of 50,000+ Editorial Board Members and esteemed reviewers and 1000+ Scientific associations in Medical, Clinical, Pharmaceutical, Engineering, Technology and Management Fields.
Meet Inspiring Speakers and Experts at our 3000+ Global Conferenceseries Events with over 600+ Conferences, 1200+ Symposiums and 1200+ Workshops on Medical, Pharma, Engineering, Science, Technology and Business

Microbiomes: A Possible Space Component?

Chandra Wickramasinghe1,2,3*, Ananda Nimalasuriya4, Milton Wainwright5 and Gensuke Tokoro2
1Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, University of Buckingham, Buckingham, UK
2Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astro-economics, Gifu, Japan
3University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
4Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical,10800 Magnolia Ave # 1, Riverside, CA 92505, USA
5Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Corresponding Author : Chandra Wickramasinghe
Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology
University of Buckingham
Buckingham, UK
Tel: +44-777-838-9243
E-mail: ncwick@gmail.com
Received: September 17, 2015; Accepted: September 24, 2015; Published: September 28, 2015
Citation: Chandra Wickramasinghe, Ananda Nimalasuriya, Milton Wainwright, Gensuke Tokoro (2015) Microbiomes: A Possible Space Component?. Astrobiol Outreach 3:139. doi:10.4172/2332-2519.1000139
Copyright: © 2015 Chandra Wickramasinghe, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Related article at Pubmed, Scholar Google
Visit for more related articles at Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach
 

Abstract

We hypothesize that components of microbiomes associated with humans and higher life-forms may be continually replenished from space. Examination of stratospheric dust using culture-independent gene-mapping techniques could reveal their possible existence and thus demonstrate unequivocally our evolutionary connection with the external universe.

Abstract

We hypothesize that components of microbiomes associated with humans and higher life-forms may be continually replenished from space. Examination of stratospheric dust using culture-independent gene-mapping techniques could reveal their possible existence and thus demonstrate unequivocally our evolutionary connection with the external universe.
 
Keywords

Microbiome; Evolution; Panspermia; Comets; Stratospheric dust
 
Introduction

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The role of symbiotic microorganisms, particularly in the human gut has been recognized for many years. The overwhelming importance of the microbiome, corresponding to an estimated total bacterial count of some ~1014 (100 trillion) individual cells has, however, been relatively recent [1]. Advances in culture-independent gene sequencing techniques have made possible a better understanding of this somewhat enigmatic entity although its origin and evolutionary impact remains unclear [2,3].

Automated gene sequencing techniques have yielded a total number of genes associated with our microbiome that grossly exceeds the 22,000 or so protein coding genes in the human genome. A consortium of researchers has recently published a gene catalogue of 3.3 × 106 non-redundant genes in the microbiome of the human gut [3,4]. Since gene sequence mapping does not distinguish between viruses, plasmids and transposable genes, the viral component in the microbiome may perhaps be the most significant.

The human gut microbiota has often been described as the most densely populated ecosystem on Earth [5,6]. Gut bacteria divide into two broad classes: commensual or symbiotic organism, and dysbiotic or pathogenic organisms. Included within these classes are many groups of extremophiles, including acidophiles, that are significantly different from free-living microbial populations. Most importantly they have the proven ability to transfer viral particles (virions) to invading bacteria. The remarkable individuality and time variability of the human microbiome, particularly in the gut [7], has also come as a surprise to investigators in recent years. It’s possible role in health, immunity and disease is only just coming to be recognized by physicians. Some human diseases that have defied understanding may well be connected with properties of the microbiome. For instance it has been suggested that patients with schizophrenia have a significantly altered microbiome in their mouths and throats [8].

How did the human (and other) microbiomes arise in the first place? Is it the outcome of millions of years of co-evolution between evolved organisms (mammals, humans) and an ever-changing population of environmental bacteria and viruses? Or is a population of microbial/viral entities identifiable with microbiomes continuously being replenished from space?

A discovery possibly related to microbiomes is the realization that the total biomass of our planet may be dominated by viruses. Epifluorescence microscopy of sea-water has recently turned up with a total count of 0.5-1 × 1010 virions per litre or ~1031 virions throughout the oceans. The possibility that microbiomes associated with animals are acquired, at least in part, from this pool of viruses cannot be ignored. Nor can we dismiss the even more contentious possibility that components of microbiomes form part of a continuing ingress of biomaterial from comets. From 2001 onwards evidence for an ongoing entry of biological entities from comets, consistent with Panspermia [9] has grown to the point of being close to compelling [10,11]. The case for Panspermia has been further strengthened by recent discoveries of exoplanets and the diminishing average distance between neighboring habitable planets [12].

Stratospheric samples of presumed cometary origin recovered from 41 km in the stratosphere have shown evidence for both culturable and non-culturable microorganisms. The non-culturable component has been detected in great abundance by fluorescence techniques that show positive for both the presence of DNA/RNA and membrane potential (Figure 1). It is possible that clumps such as these are indeed entire microbiomes or parts thereof that would eventually become incorporated in terrestrial life forms.

Although a few culturable microorganisms have been isolated and their 16s-RNA sequenced [13,14] there remains an ambiguity as to whether such single bacteria of sizes less than 1 micrometre may somehow have been lofted from the ground.

On the other hand the much larger clumps of biomaterial (bacteria/nanobacteria/viruses) detected both by electron microscopy and staining techniques (Figure 1) are decisively far too heavy to be lofted from the ground. So we can safely assume that they fall from space. Such clumps could include bacteria as well as RNA/DNA viruses that could interact with and augment microbiomes associated with terrestrial creatures including humans.

In the balloon experiments that are being planned at the Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroecomics infalling cometary material will be collected at regular intervals. Samples of the collected material will be used for various tests, and the hope is to include techniques that would seek evidence of microbiome-related genome components in stratospheric dust.

Based on our 2001 sampling of the stratosphere at 41 km [10] we estimate a daily input of biomaterial over the entire Earth of ~0.3 tonne. With a typical virion mass of 10-21 g we would thus have ~3 × 1026 virions per day. On this basis the total virion count in the oceans of ~1031 virions would be replaced on a timescale of 3 × 104 days ~100 yr, or 3 human generations. Over such a timescale microbiome-related virions if they are incident from space can act as horizontal gene transfer (HGT) agents and play a crucial role in host evolution [9]. One might speculate that the evolution of hominids over millions of years was driven by the accumulation of such virions into their genomes [9,15,16].

On a much shorter time interval the interactions between microbiome-related virions and host species might be used to practical advantage in the field of medicine. For example it is known that gene transfer from the microbiome to an invading pathogen would sometimes vitiate the effect of antibiotics and vaccines and permit its ingress to the host [17]. We could speculate that it may be possible for strategies for vaccines as well as antibiotics to be developed in response to virions collected in the stratosphere.

For a sample of biomaterial recovered from the stratosphere (e.g. clusters in Figure 1) techniques of metagenomics, now routinely available on a commercial basis, offer the possibility of rapidly “deconstructing” collective genomes of bacteria and viruses. The discovery of novel sequences that may be occasionally present could give a clue as to their space origin, thus establishing consistency with ongoing Panspermia.

In conclusion we emphasize that we present this proposal as a potentially falsifiable proposition. It may at first sight appear improbable, but the technology to disprove it exists, and in our view it is our duty as scientists to deploy it to this end.
 
References



































Figures at a glance

Figure
Figure 1
Select your language of interest to view the total content in your interested language
Post your comment
Share This Article
   
 
   
 
Relevant Topics
Disc
Disc Aerodynamic Flow Control
Disc Asteroids and Life
Disc Astrobiology
Disc Astronomy
Disc Astronomy Equipment
Disc Astronomy Facts
Disc Astrophysics
Disc Atmosphere
Disc Atmospheric Chemistry
Disc Atmospheric inversions
Disc Biosphere
Disc Carbon Nanotubes
Disc Chemical Oceanography
Disc Climate Change
Disc Climatology
Disc Coastal Meteorology
Disc Coastal Upwelling
Disc Computational Fluid Dynamics
Disc Convective Storms
Disc Cosmochemistry
Disc Cosmoparticle Physics
Disc Crystallography
Disc Detectors and Optical Sensors
Disc Disaster Science
Disc Dynamical Oceanography
Disc ELNINO Effect
Disc Earth Science
Disc Ecology
Disc Environmental Oceanography
Disc Exobiology
Disc Experimental Oceanography
Disc Extraterrestrial Life
Disc Extremophiles
Disc Fisheries Oceanography
Disc Forecasting Algorithms
Disc Fusion Plasmas
Disc Gemology
Disc Geochemistry
Disc Geochronology
Disc Geomicrobiology
Disc Geomorphology
Disc Geosciences
Disc Geostatistics
Disc Glaciology
Disc Global-Warming
Disc Habitable Zone
Disc Hurricane Climatology
Disc Hydrologic
Disc Limnology and Oceanography
Disc Luminescence
Disc Marine Biotechnology
Disc Marine Chemistry
Disc Marine Ecosystem
Disc Marine Isotope Stage
Disc Marine Sediment
Disc Marine-Engineering
Disc Meridional Overturning Circulation
Disc Mesoscale Systems
Disc Meteoritics
Disc Microbial Oceanography
Disc Mineralogy
Disc Nuclear Physics
Disc Numerical Weather Prediction
Disc Ocean Warming
Disc Oceanography and Marine Biology
Disc Operational Forecasting
Disc Operational Oceanography
Disc Ozone Layer
Disc Parallel Programming
Disc Physical Oceanography
Disc Planetary Protection
Disc Planetary Science
Disc Polar Melting
Disc Precipitation
Disc Quantum Gravity
Disc Radio-Astronomy
Disc Satellite Radiance
Disc Sea Surface Salinity
Disc Shallow Water Equation
Disc Soil Physics
Disc Solid State Plasmas
Disc Space Plasmas
Disc Stellar Spectroscopy
Disc Stratified Flow
Disc Suprnova Remnants
Disc Surface Physics
Disc Synoptic Climatology
Disc Terraforming
Disc Tornado Climatology
Disc Weather and Forecasting
 
Recommended Journals
Disc Astrophysics Journal
Disc Oceanography Journal
Disc Earth Science Journal
Disc Climatology Journal
  View More»
 
Recommended Conferences
Disc Geophysics Conference
Sept 29-Oct 1, 2016 Vancouver, Canada
Disc Geosciences Conference
Oct 6-7, 2016 Miami, USA
View More»
 
Article Tools
Disc Export citation
Disc Share/Blog this article
 
Article usage
  Total views: 11320
  [From(publication date):
October-2015 - Aug 29, 2016]
  Breakdown by view type
  HTML page views : 7545
  PDF downloads :3775
 
 
 

Post your comment

captcha   Reload  Can't read the image? click here to refresh

OMICS International Journals
 
Make the best use of Scientific Research and information from our 700 + peer reviewed, Open Access Journals
 
 
OMICS International Conferences 2016-17
 
Meet Inspiring Speakers and Experts at our 3000+ Global Annual Meetings
 
 

Contact Us

Agri, Food, Aqua and Veterinary Science Journals

Dr. Krish

agrifoodaquavet@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9040

Clinical and Biochemistry Journals

Datta A

clinical_biochem@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9037

Business & Management Journals

Ronald

business@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

Chemical Engineering and Chemistry Journals

Gabriel Shaw

chemicaleng_chemistry@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9040

Earth & Environmental Sciences

Katie Wilson

environmentalsci@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

Engineering Journals

James Franklin

engineering@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

General Science and Health care Journals

Andrea Jason

generalsci_healthcare@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9043

Genetics and Molecular Biology Journals

Anna Melissa

genetics_molbio@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9006

Immunology & Microbiology Journals

David Gorantl

immuno_microbio@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9014

Informatics Journals

Stephanie Skinner

omics@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9039

Material Sciences Journals

Rachle Green

materialsci@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9039

Mathematics and Physics Journals

Jim Willison

mathematics_physics@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9042

Medical Journals

Nimmi Anna

medical@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9038

Neuroscience & Psychology Journals

Nathan T

neuro_psychology@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9041

Pharmaceutical Sciences Journals

John Behannon

pharma@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001Extn: 9007

Social & Political Science Journals

Steve Harry

social_politicalsci@omicsinc.com

1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9042

 
© 2008-2016 OMICS International - Open Access Publisher. Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox | Google Chrome | Above IE 7.0 version