NASA studies make-up of the space station’s microbiome

Published: 15-Dec-2015

The results of a recent NASA study, obtained using new molecular analysis methods, provide strong evidence that specific human skin-associated bacteria make a substantial contribution to the space station microbiome

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State-of-the-art molecular analysis of dust samples from the International Space Station (ISS) has been employed to reveal new information about some of the potential bacterial agents present in the astronauts’ space environment. The research, published in the open access journal Microbiome,1 reported presence of the opportunistic bacterial pathogens that are mostly innocuous on Earth but can lead to infections that result in inflammations or skin irritations.

The findings of this study help NASA establish a baseline for monitoring the cleanliness of the ISS, which will in turn help manage astronaut health in the future. However, since the study is based on genetic analysis, it could not conclude whether these bacteria are harmful to astronaut health.

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