NASA | A mutant bacterium has been discovered on the International Space Station that could threaten the health of astronauts

A team of scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has identified a mutant bacterium on the International Space Station (ISS) that could pose a serious health threat to astronauts working in this extremely hostile environment. Bacteria The Enterobacter bugandensis in question, already known for its drug resistance, was found at various locations on the ISS, demonstrating its ability to survive and adapt in such a complex environment characterized by microgravity, cosmic radiation and extreme temperatures.

The study, led by Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, analyzed thirteen strains of Enterobacter bugandensis isolated on the ISS. The results are alarming: these strains not only managed to survive the extreme conditions of the space station, but also underwent significant genetic mutations, becoming genetically and functionally different from those found on Earth.

According to NASA’s statement, these mutant bacteria coexisted with other microorganisms present on the ISS, which may have contributed to the survival and adaptation of both. However, this phenomenon raises serious concerns about the possible threat that these mutant strains could pose to the health and immunity of astronauts living and working on the space station.

Ensure the health and safety of astronauts

The study, published in the journal Microbiome, highlights the critical importance of understanding the complex interactions between microbial communities on the ISS. Strains of Enterobacter bugandensis were found in critical areas such as the air circulation system, laboratory bathroom and exercise equipment, further highlighting the need to take strong preventive measures to ensure the health and safety of astronauts.

According to Dr. Venkates: “Closed built environments such as the ISS are unique environments that provide extreme conditions. Any microorganism that enters these areas must adapt in order to thrive. This study opens the door to effective preventative health measures for astronauts,” he says.

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