The international space station

An extreme environment for key host-microbe discoveries: Microgravity encountered during spaceflight helps to determine how various forces influence microbes as they interact with hosts and environments

C. Mark Ott, Thomas Marshburn, Cheryl Nickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Since the early period of the 1960s, when the focus was on how spaceflight might affect the health of crew members, NASA experiments involving microbiology expanded considerably. Experiments over the past 50 years indicate that microorganisms respond to the spaceflight environment in unusual ways, including alterations in virulence and resistance to antibiotics. Experiments conducted in spaceflight and NASA rotating-wall vessels are enabling investigators to determine how fluid shear regulates virulence, stress responses, and gene expression in a manner that profoundly differs from what happens in traditional shake flasks and static cultures. The conserved RNA-binding protein Hfq appears to control the response of Salmonella and other types of bacteria to spaceflight and other low-fluid-shear environments. The microgravity environment of spaceflight affords a tool to investigate how various forces, which gravity obscures, are manifest in structural and functional processes in microbial and human cells that are important for disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobe
Volume11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

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Weightlessness
Space Flight
United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Virulence
Batch Cell Culture Techniques
RNA-Binding Proteins
Gravitation
Microbial Drug Resistance
Microbiology
Salmonella
Disease Progression
Research Personnel
Extreme Environments
Bacteria
Gene Expression
Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology

Cite this

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