Author(s): Morris HC, Monaco LA, Steele A, Wainwright N
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Abstract Historically, colony-forming units as determined by plate cultures have been the standard unit for microbiological analysis of environmental samples, medical diagnostics, and products for human use. However, the time and materials required make plate cultures expensive and potentially hazardous in the closed environments of future NASA missions aboard the International Space Station and missions to other Solar System targets. The Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) assay is an established method for ensuring the sterility and cleanliness of samples in the meat-packing and pharmaceutical industries. Each of these industries has verified numerical requirements for the correct interpretation of results from this assay. The LAL assay is a rapid, point-of-use, verified assay that has already been approved by NASA Planetary Protection as an alternate, molecular method for the examination of outbound spacecraft. We hypothesize that standards for molecular techniques, similar to those used by the pharmaceutical and meat-packing industries, need to be set by space agencies to ensure accurate data interpretation and subsequent decision making. In support of this idea, we present research that has been conducted to relate the LAL assay to plate cultures, and we recommend values obtained from these investigations that could assist in interpretation and analysis of data obtained from the LAL assay.
This article was published in Astrobiology
and referenced in International Journal of Sensor Networks and Data Communications