© 2019

Biosignatures for Astrobiology

  • Barbara Cavalazzi
  • Frances Westall
  • Provides a state-of-the-art overview of the timely topic of biosignatures

  • Serves as key book to understand biosignatures from interdisciplinary perspectives

  • Edited and authored by experienced scientists active in astrobiology

  • Includes a chapter on specific biosignatures providing a definition, describing methodology and offering an outlook to future development


Part of the Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics book series (ASTROBIO)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiv
  2. Biosignatures on Earth

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. André Brack
      Pages 3-21
    3. Eric Quirico, Lydie Bonal
      Pages 23-50
    4. David J. Des Marais, Linda L. Jahnke
      Pages 51-85
    5. Frédéric Gaboyer, Gaëtan Burgaud, Virginia Edgcomb
      Pages 87-109
    6. Jean-Pierre de Vera, The Life Detection Group of BIOMEX/BIOSIGN
      Pages 111-122
    7. Karim Benzerara, Sylvain Bernard, Jennyfer Miot
      Pages 123-144
    8. Frances Westall, Keyron Hickman-Lewis, Barbara Cavalazzi
      Pages 145-164
  3. Biosignatures in Space

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 165-165
    2. John Robert Brucato, Teresa Fornaro
      Pages 183-204
    3. Avinash Vicholous Dass, Hervé Cottin, André Brack
      Pages 205-222
    4. John Lee Grenfell
      Pages 223-249
  4. Biosignatures, Instruments and Missions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 251-251
    2. Franck Lefèvre
      Pages 253-266
    3. Frédéric Foucher
      Pages 267-282
    4. Jorge L. Vago, Frances Westall, Barbara Cavalazzi, The ExoMars Science Working Team
      Pages 283-300
  5. Biosignatures in a Philosophical Perspective

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 301-301
    2. David Dunér
      Pages 303-338

About this book


This book aims at providing a brief but broad overview of biosignatures. The topics addressed range from prebiotic signatures in extraterrestrial materials to the signatures characterising extant life as well as fossilised life, biosignatures related to space, and space flight instrumentation to detect biosignatures either in situ or from orbit. The book ends with philosophical reflections on the implications of life elsewhere. 
In the 15 chapters written by an interdisciplinary team of experts, it provides both detailed explanations on the nature of biosignatures as well as useful case studies showing how they are used and identified in ancient rocks, for example. One case study addresses the controversial finding of traces of fossil life in a meteorite from Mars. 
The book will be of interest not only to astrobiologists but also to terrestrial paleontologists as well as any reader interested in the prospects of finding a second example of life on another planet.


Astrobiology and origin of life Biosignatures and their biogenicity Strategy of life detection Search for extraterrestrial life Biosignatures for exoplanets

Editors and affiliations

  • Barbara Cavalazzi
    • 1
  • Frances Westall
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze BiologicheGeologiche e Ambientali, Università di BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Centre de Biophysique MoléculaireCNRSOrléansFrance

About the editors

About the Editors:

Barbara Cavalazzi is Professor at the University of Bologna and appointed as Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg. She is expert in high-resolution analytical technics applied to microbialpalaeontology, and in field geology and Mars analogues.

Frances Westall is Director of Research at the CNRS and Head of the Astrobiology Group in Orléans. President of the European Astrobiology Network Association, she is a specialist on microbial biosignatures, Early Earth geology and is part of the ExoMars2020 rover mission.

Bibliographic information


“Biosignatures for Astrobiology provides insight into one of the most intriguing and progressive fields in science— exploration for life elsewhere in the universe. … Most chapters are accessible to undergraduate students, but this book is best suited for researchers and graduate students.” (N. W. Hinman, Choice, Vol. 56 (9), May, 2019)​