No, bacteria aren’t mutating into superbugs on the International Space Station


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Micro organism on the Worldwide Area Station are evolving and altering of their unusual orbital surroundings — however in keeping with a brand new examine, they aren’t any extra harmful to people.

That is excellent news for astronauts, as some earlier analysis prompt that area journey would possibly make sure microbes mutate into strains which are extra dangerous to individuals.

“There was lots of hypothesis about radiation, microgravity and the shortage of air flow and the way which may have an effect on residing organisms, together with micro organism,” lead examine writer Erica Hartmann, a organic design professor at Northwestern College, mentioned in a press release. “These are annoying, harsh circumstances,” main researchers to surprise if area journey would improve the chances that micro organism would evolve into so-called superbugs to outlive.

Primarily based on the brand new examine, revealed at the moment (Jan. eight) within the journal Msystems, “the reply seems to be ‘no,'” Hartmann mentioned.

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Within the examine, researchers analyzed DNA from two sorts of micro organism that had taken a visit to the ISS: Staphylococcus aureus (which is discovered on pores and skin and causes staph infections) and Bacillus cereus (which is current in digestive techniques and soil and normally innocent). Each microbes had been collected from the ambient surroundings of the area station and doubtless hitched a trip to area on the pores and skin of astronauts or inside their our bodies. The outcomes revealed that whereas the returned micro organism had mutated in a different way than their Earthbound counterparts, they hadn’t developed any of the plain genetic traits of superbugs. (Superbugs are micro organism which have turn into proof against antibiotics.) [Over Earth: Day & Night from ISS]

On Earth, the researchers mentioned, micro organism routinely fall away from the human our bodies they like to inhabit and bear modifications to adapt to nonliving surfaces. However researchers had been particularly involved that the shut quarters of spacecraft, the place people and micro organism share the identical air and small areas for months on finish, would possibly produce harmful modifications.

It appears, nevertheless, that whereas the micro organism did change themselves to adapt to area, these modifications did not produce any abnormalities that may make them produce ailments that may be extra infectious or troublesome to deal with.

That is excellent news for long-term spaceflight. Whereas NASA’s rigorous quarantine procedures earlier than launches have made infectious ailments in area exceedingly uncommon, the prospect of an outbreak in a sealed spacecraft rushing towards Mars stays alarming. Thus far, although, it appears that evidently nothing concerning the area surroundings itself is working to make that bacterial danger any extra dire — even when there are different well being points to fret about.

Initially revealed on Stay Science.

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