Scientists discovered three new strains of bacteria on the International Space Station, according to a study published Monday.
“Four strains belonging to the family of Methylobacteria were isolated from different locations on the International Space Station (ISS) on two consecutive flights “, the study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.
Kasthuri Venkateswaran and Nitin Kumar Singh, two of the authors of the article from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained in a Press release that bacteria formed in plants that the astronauts were growing in space.
“To grow plants in extreme locations where resources are minimal, isolating new microbes that help promote plant growth under stressful conditions is essential,” the two said.
The discovery of these new bacteria in plants could lead to advances in plant growth and space agriculture.
“This will further aid in the identification of genetic determinants that could potentially be responsible for promoting plant growth under microgravity conditions and contributing to the development of self-sustaining plant crops for long-term space missions in the future, ”the study says.
Three of the bacterial strains were found on the surfaces of the ISS in 2015 and 2016 and the fourth was collected in 2011.
“It goes without saying that the ISS is an extreme environment with clean maintenance. Crew safety is the number one priority and therefore understanding human / plant pathogens is important, but beneficial microbes like this new Methylobacterium ajmalii are also needed, ”the scientists said.