What happens to the bacteria in space?
Surely you have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that scientists are regularly sent to the International Space station organisms for research. But what happens to the bacteria during space travel, they mutate? The knowledge of how microbes behave unusual for these habitats are vital for us if we want to colonize other planets. In addition, we are rapidly approaching the sending astronauts to Mars first, and in this risky and dangerous journey you must take into account many variables.
It was found that some bacteria thrive on board the ISS
Should I be concerned about the mutant bacteria in space?
Remember science fiction novel by HG Wells' War of the Worlds "? It Martians decided to take over our planet, but the result fell victim to his own hindsight - hitting the Earth, the alien invaders came into contact with numerous micro-organisms that live on our planet. It was they who brought the evil Martians destruction.
A scene from the 2005 film "War of the Worlds"
Indeed, the role of microorganisms should not be underestimated. In the end, every person is a carrier of thousands of viruses, bacteria and fungi: they constitute our microbiome and accompany us wherever we went, even into space. However, space conditions are changing, and you need to know exactly what is happening with the microbes. This is particularly important because we are talking about organisms, the ability to mutate who incredibly developed. Think about it - the bacteria are found even in the most inhospitable environments on our planet.
You may be wondering whether the colonists of Mars Will mutants?
A number of studies carried out since the end of 2018, paints a favorable picture is not as we would like the future colonists. A study conducted with several strains of Enterobacter bacteria detected in the ISS found that, despite the fact that these bacteria were not pathogenic, likely to develop is 79% due to contact with them. But a new paper published in the journal mSystems, describes the result of the analysis conducted by the bacteria that have visited the ISS. In this case we are talking about Staphylococcus aureus (Staphylococcus aureus) and Bacillus cereus (Bacillus cereus). According to the results, in spite of the extreme conditions on the ISS, bacteria mutate and become "dangerous". Moreover, they become resistant to antibiotics.
The bacteria mutate to survive
Researchers at Northwestern University found that although the studied strains contain genetic material that is different from, and of the earth, these genes do not make the bacteria more dangerous to humans. According to the authors, the bacteria respond and may evolve in order to survive in a very stressful environment.
So Staphylococcus aureus looks under the microscope
During the study, the researchers used a public database, provided by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information. The database contains genomic analysis of many bacteria, visited the ISS. Note, that the selected bacterial species reside in different environments: Staphylococcus aureus lives on the skin, and one of its strains called MRSA (methicillin resistant), it is difficult to treat. Bacillus cereus live in the soil, and their activities have little impact on human health.
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According to the study's lead author Erik Hartmann, the bacteria that live on the skin, thrive on the ISS. The fact that the human skin is warm and contains organic and chemical substances that are like bacteria. However it is necessary to remove bacteria from the skin to the ISS, they immediately fall into another medium: cold and aggressive. Yet, bacteria genes to help them to survive even in harsh conditions. According to experts, this environment awakens the "sleeping" genes that give bacteria an advantage and even contribute to the mutation. Whatever it was, one goal in bacteria - to survive at any cost.
And so under the microscope looks like Bacillus cereus
Despite the fact that this is good news, experts are very cautious in future forecasts. The fact that the astronauts - these are people who have excellent health. However, when the space will go a large number of tourists, which health will not necessarily be the health of astronauts, who knows what can happen. I imagine what would happen if you put a person with an infection in a closed bubble in space? This can be compared to a person who coughs or sneezes on a plane. And in this case, the disease is just covered.