Our main research line is determination of organic molecules in extraterrestrial soils and crops with the purpose of terraforming remote planets and moons. We select, and test plants and other lower eukaryotes for space missions. In addition, we develop hardware and software solutions for solving analytical challenges in space discovery.
The main reason of our activities is the difficulty of atmosphere creation on Mars, which is an essential condition for the multiplanetary life of humanity. Considering the extreme climatic conditions, it is very challenging to plan any forestation and/or plantation activities yet on the red planet.
To advance this scenario, we have designed a concept and are developing its assets that may contribute to the release of greenhouse gases into remote planets atmoshpere (with special focus on Martian atmosphere), by using plants and microbes planted and injected into the regolith.
Continuous monitoring of microbial composition and activity is essential. These microbes are exiting from the system by root growing, so that they get into direct contact with the extraterrestrial environment. For organic molecules detection, we use miniaturized Capillary Electrophoresis, eg. Microchip Electrophoresis (ME) based instruments, which conform with the minimal mass/power/volume requirements.
We support and develop new and novel hardware and software solutions for solving analytical challenges in a sustainable manner.
N-linked protein glycosylation in plant science is important, considering that it can modify most biological functions of proteins, and affect development of all living organisms. Although, the knowledge of N-glycol biosynthesis and processing is continuously improving, there is still a limited number of studies that examine biological functions of N-glycan structures in plants.
For this reason, investigating PCT-FNGs distribution in crops is significant toward discovering new indicators of biological processes in growing plants, thereby contributing to sustainable agriculture practices.
Given that in present N-glycan databases (e.g., glycostore.org) comprise exclusively human profiles, we intend to initiate an international collaboration in which researchers all around the world we realize an Open Access database for plant PCT-FNGs profiles before year ending.
For separation we primarily use a self-designed miniaturized CE (Capillary Electrophoresis) device. Please, find detailed information on the system components and measurement procedures below:
1. Detection (Imaging Laser-Induced Fluorescence, iLIF): (1) image acquisition-based detection with “spyglass” design (monocular lens ∼3 cm away from the detection zone) setting the target in the center of the view field; 405 nm diode laser (5.0 mW, Laserland, Wuhan, PRC) installed to illuminate the detection target zone; 12.5 mm diameter EO520/10 emission filter (Yulong Optics Co, Ltd., Kunming, PRC). Collected and bandpass-filtered light reaches an 8-megapixel CCD camera (Pi NoIR Sony IMX219, Tokyo, Japan)
2. Image Processing ARM cortex Raspberry Pi-3b minicomputer serves as the image processing unit, which runs on a Raspbian for Raspberry Pi operating system (Cambridge, U.K.); image processing-based detection is performed in python scripts, in time-lapse mode (Raspistill library, Raspberry Pi)
3. Results (Gu values) are compared to CE database in Glycostore (https://glycostore.org).
Justification of current setup
Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is among the best resolving liquid separation techniques, which still benefits from miniaturization. Analytes are separated by their hydrodynamic volume to charge ratio. CE can be rated as a sustainable technique in the field of liquid phase separation science, owing to its minimal mass/volume/energy requirements.
For rapid plant health assessment, we usually apply hyperspectral imaging techniques (e.g., N-deficiency calculated from % chlorophyll content) using Parrot Sequoia Multispectral Sensor (Parrot, Inc. France) and Qgis 3.4 software to interpret the images.
In the near future we will report results obtained with an ecologically convenient CE system. For storing and maintaining Glycan Retention Properties of plants we are creating GlycoPlants™.
To evaluate the viability of analytical instrument selection for the detection of organics in any given extraterrestrial exploratory mission, we developed a freely available software tool, called SciencePayload
Pondering received feedbacks, we improved the algorithm and expanded its features to support selection of instruments to be installed into the penetrator:
We enabled users to setup their own simulations; our inputted instruments can be used for practicing science payload calculations, but we also allow users to add, calculate, and compare their own data: https://genesissus.eu/sciencepayload/
In the meanwhile, we pay special attention on glycanic studies in plants, given their role of early-stress indicator. Our database is freely available at: https://genesissus.eu/glycoplants/
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