Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spacebound bacteria inspire earthbound remedies

Date:
March 21, 2011
Source:
Arizona State University
Summary:
Recent research aboard the Space Shuttle is giving scientists a better understanding of how infectious disease occurs in space and could someday improve astronaut health and provide novel treatments for people on Earth.

Scanning electron micrograph of Pseudomonas aeruginosa cultured on board Shuttle mission STS-115, as part of the MICROBE experiment (magnification 12,000X).
Credit: mage courtesy of Mayra Nelman-Gonzalez

Recent research aboard the Space Shuttle is giving scientists a better understanding of how infectious disease occurs in space and could someday improve astronaut health and provide novel treatments for people on Earth.

Related Articles


The research involves an opportunistic pathogen known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the same bacterium that caused astronaut Fred Haise to become sick during the Apollo 13 mission to the moon in 1970.

Scientists studying the bacterium aboard the Shuttle hope to unlock the mysteries of how disease-causing agents work. They believe the research can lead to advanced vaccines and therapies to better fight infections. The findings are based on flight experiments with microbial pathogens on NASA space shuttle missions to the station and appear in a recent edition of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

"For the first time, we're able to see that two very different species of bacteria -- Salmonella and Pseudomonas -- share the same basic regulating mechanism, or master control switch, that micro-manages many of the microbes' responses to the spaceflight environment," said Cheryl Nickerson, associate professor at the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. "We have shown that spaceflight affects common regulators in both bacteria that invariably cause disease in healthy individuals [Salmonella] and those that cause disease only in people with compromised immune systems [Pseudomonas]."

By studying the global gene expression patterns in bacterial pathogens like Pseudomonas and Salmonella, Nickerson's team learned more about how they react to reduced gravity.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa can coexist as a benign microbe in healthy individuals, but poses a serious threat to people with compromised immune systems. It is the leading cause of death for those suffering from cystic fibrosis and is a serious risk to burn victims. However, a high enough dosage of Salmonella typhimurium always will cause disease, even in healthy individuals.

During the initial study in 2006, two bacterial pathogens, Salmonella typhimurium and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and one fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, were launched to the station aboard space shuttles. They were allowed to grow in appropriately contained vessels for several days. Nickerson's team was the first to evaluate global gene and protein expression (how the bacteria react at the molecular level) and virulence changes in microbes in response to reduced gravity.

"We discovered that aspects of the environment that microbes encountered during spaceflight appeared to mimic key conditions that pathogens normally encounter in our bodies during the natural course of infection, particularly in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system and urogenital tract," Nickerson said. NASA's Advanced Capabilities Division Director, Benjamin Neumann added that, "This means that in addition to safeguarding future space travelers, such research may aid the quest for better therapeutics against pathogens here on Earth."

The initial study and follow-on space experiments show that spaceflight creates a low fluid shear environment, where liquids exert little force as they flow over the surface of cells. The low fluid shear environment of spaceflight affects the molecular genetic regulators that can make microbes more infectious. These same regulators might function in a similar way to regulate microbial virulence during the course of infection in the human body.

"We have now shown that spaceflight conditions modified molecular pathways that are known to be involved in the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa," said Aurιlie Crabbι, a researcher in Dr. Nickerson's lab at ASU and the lead author of the paper. "Future work will establish whether Pseudomonas also exhibits increased virulence following spaceflight as did Salmonella."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Arizona State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Crabbι A, Schurr MJ, Monsieurs P, Morici L, Schurr J, Wilson JW, Ott CM, Tsaprailis G, Pierson DL, Stefanyshyn-Piper H, Nickerson CA. Transcriptional and proteomic responses of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 to spaceflight conditions involve Hfq regulation and reveal a role for oxygen.. Appl Environ Microbiol, 2011 Feb;77(4):1221-30 [link]

Cite This Page:

Arizona State University. "Spacebound bacteria inspire earthbound remedies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321162007.htm>.
Arizona State University. (2011, March 21). Spacebound bacteria inspire earthbound remedies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321162007.htm
Arizona State University. "Spacebound bacteria inspire earthbound remedies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321162007.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) — NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins