by Brooks Hays
Davis, Calif. (UPI) Mar 24, 2016
Scientists are exploring long-term space travel from every conceivable angle. For a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis, the angle is bacteria.
Last year, researchers working on Project MECCURI sent 48 strains of bacteria to live on the International Space Station. New analysis suggests the majority of those strains behaved much the same as they do on Earth.
But one species, Bacillus safensis, thrived in microgravity.
In a new paper on the project's early findings -- published in the journal PeerJ -- scientists report that Bacillus safensis in space grew 60 percent better than its control strain on Earth.
Researchers have previously documented the ability of bacteria to survive on the outside of spacecraft, but the latest project focused on bacterial growth inside.
"The warm, humid, oxygen-rich environment of the ISS is a far cry from the vacuum of space," David Coil, a microbiologist at UC-Davis and lead author on the study, told The Conversation.
Normally, scientists grow bacteria in a liquid medium, but that doesn't work inside the space station. Researchers had to develop a solid substrate for the bacteria to grow in.
Scientists aren't sure yet why Bacillus safensis behaved so differently, especially when all 47 other strains displayed similar behavior and growth rates on Earth and in space.
"I would love for someone else to follow up the result with Bacillus safensis and see if we could learn more about what happened," Coil said.
The species was originally found on spacecraft in Florida and California, but researchers isolated this particular strain from a doorknob in New York City.
Researchers say studying bacteria in space is key to ensuring astronauts and alien environments aren't put at risk by interplanetary space travel.
Life Beyond Earth
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|