NASA scientists pay attention to toilet microbes on the International Space Station

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NASA’s Indian scientists say NASA is concerned about the bacterial Enterobacter strain found in the International Space Station (ISS) toilet, which may have potential health effects for future tasks.

In March 2015, in a study by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and a research group at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the investigation took place on the ISS space toilet and sports platform in March 2015. Five strains of “Enterobacteria” bacteria.

Genomic sequencing of the samples revealed that all five strains belonged to a single species, Enterobacter bugandensis (E. bugandensis).


Researchers say that although these viruses are not pathogenic to humans, neonatal and diseased patients still have a disease and they are admitted to three different hospitals (East Africa, Washington and Colorado).

“Considering the multi-drug resistance of these ISS E. bugandensis genomes and the increased pathogenicity we have identified, these species may pose important health considerations for future tasks,” said Nitin, lead author of NASA-JPL Caltech. Singh said.

“However, it is important to understand that the strains found on the International Space Station are not toxic, which means that they are not an active threat to human health, but something that needs to be monitored,” he added.

The study, published in the BMC Journal of Microbiology, compared the ISS strain to all publicly available genomes of 1,291 strains of Enterobacter strains collected on Earth.

They found that the ISS isolates had similar patterns of antimicrobial resistance to the three clinical strains found on Earth and included 112 genes involved in virulence, disease and defence.

They use computer analysis to predict that they are likely to cause disease with a probability of 79%.

Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a senior research scientist at JPL, said: “Whether an opportunistic pathogen like E. bugandensis causes disease and how much it threatens depends on a variety of factors, including environmental factors.”

“The need for further in vivo studies to discern the effects of ISS conditions on microgravity, other space and spacecraft related factors may have an impact on pathogenicity and virulence,” he noted.

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