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Antibiotic resistant bacteria are found at Space Station Toilet

Enterobacter cloacae bacteria grown in a petri dish. In a new study, researchers have investigated the bacterial antibiotic resistance at…

Enterobacter cloacae bacteria grown in a petri dish. In a new study, researchers have investigated the bacterial antibiotic resistance at the space station. (Credit: CDC)

Space Bacteria

Whenever people go, our bacterium follows companions. It is as true in space as it is on earth, and while we know that microbial astronauts are present at the international space station, a group of researchers have just found a new reason to worry about them.

A genomic assay of samples collected from the space toilets aboard the station has shown, among other things, that some of the bacteria on ISS have genes that provide resistance to antibiotics. There is no danger to astronauts at the moment, scientists say, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but it is a reminder that bacteria can be a threat in a space station’s limited environment.

In this new study, researchers of the genes of these species were characterized in detail and compared their genes to the genres of 1

,291 Enterobacter strains from the soil. By studying the genetic makeup of the bacterium, they could see that the bacteria were likely to be resistant to antibacterial drugs.

Microbial Dangers

Nitin Singh, the first author of the study, stressed in a statement that these strains are not virulent, which means they do not constitute an immediate or immediate threat to astronauts. However, Singh added, one of the foundations found Enterobacter bugandensis is an opportunistic pathogen, which means it can cause disease. A computer analysis of the species showed that it really meant a significant risk of hurting people in the future.

The work was part of an attempt to better understand how future microbial astronauts will affect human life in space. [19659005] “Understanding how microbial life grows in a closed environment like ISS helps us better prepare for the health issues that come with space travel,” said Singh in an email. “ISS gives us the first opportunity to study an often overlooked aspect of space travel: how a spacecraft’s microbiology and life support systems interact,” says Singh

The closed system aboard the space station is a unique environment for bacteria and other microbial organisms. Just as microbial species grow, adapt and multiply here on earth, they will do the same in space. The cranes and cranes on equipment and storage aboard the space station are kept clean, but the present microscopic organisms will find shelter and adapt to survive. As the researchers found, some of these adaptations may include mutations that provide resistance to antibiotics and make the bacteria extremely difficult to fight.

By better understanding the species aboard the space station, scientists hope to figure out how to best protect astronauts. For example, they could know when and how often to clean certain equipment on board, Singh said.

While the bacterial species at the space station do not constitute a current risk, human immune system deficits in space, Singh explains. So in future deep space missions where astronauts can spend more time in space and bacteria can have more time to adapt and multiply, the risk of infection may be higher.

“When the immune system begins to weaken, where microbes that were previously harmless could make you sick,” said Singh.

This study was published in the journal BMC Microbiology.

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