There are bacteria and fungi throughout the space station, and now we know what they are

As on Earth, there is a robust population of bacteria and fungi on the International Space Station (ISS), and a new study catalogs its exact composition.

Most microbes are badociated with humans, particularly Staphylococcus bacteria (26% of total bacteria isolated), Pantoea (23%) and Bacillus (11%), depending on A statement about the new job.. Other organisms come from specific parts of humans, such as Staphylococcus aureus (10%), which is usually found in the nasal pbadages and in human skin. Another example is Enterobacter, whose percentage was not specified in the release, which is found in the human gastrointestinal tract.

While it sounds like a crude combination, the scientists noted in the statement that similar bacteria are found in mundane environments on Earth, such as offices, gyms and hospitals, so the space station is similar to these other "built environments" frequented by humans.

Related: Astronauts identify mysterious microbes in space for the first time

It is not clear if the bacteria that sometimes cause diseases on Earth, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Enterobacter, could cause diseases in ISS astronauts, the researchers said in the statement, because that depends on things like how these organisms they work in microgravity and how healthy the astronaut is. to start. (In general, the people selected for the space are in good health and work for maintain your physical state in space in periods of exercise that span 2 hours a day.)

"Specific microbes in interior spaces of the Earth have been shown to affect human health," said Kasthuri Venkateswaran, principal research scientist of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of the article. This is even more important for astronauts. during space flight, since they have altered immunity and do not have access to the sophisticated medical interventions available on Earth. "

"In light of possible future long-term missions," Venkateswaran said, "it is important to identify the types of microorganisms that can accumulate in the unique and closed environments badociated with space flight, how long they survive and their impact on human health and the spaceship, infrastructure. "

The researchers said that this study is the first "complete catalog" of fungi and bacteria found on the surfaces of a closed-space system, such as the ISS. The researchers said that this could lead to the development of safety measures for astronauts during space flights, although at this time the risk to spaceflight (if any) is not clear.

The astronauts collected the samples during three flights spanning 14 months, a period of time that allowed researchers to see how the populations of microbes and fungi changed in locations and over time. They came from eight places on the ISS, including the dining room table, the toilet, the exercise equipment, the observation window and the bedrooms.

"The authors found that while the mushroom communities were stable, the microbial communities were similar in all locations, but changed over time," the researchers said in the statement. "The samples taken during the second flight mission had greater microbial diversity than the samples collected during the first and third missions. The authors suggest that these temporary differences may be due to different astronauts on board the ISS. "

The new research was led by Aleksandra Checinska Sielaff, who has affiliations at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at Washington State University. The work was detailed on April 8 In the Microbiome magazine.

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