24/7 Space News
NRL ISS Mission seeks new bioinspired materials
(Left) Wild-type Escherichia coli a non-melanin producing strain and (right) bioengineered E. coli mutant with the Tyr1 gene to produce melanin in liquid media. A melanin biofilm is observable in the mutant strain that is part of a U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) project called Microbes for Multiple Uses in Space Project (MELSP) in Washington, D.C., October 10, 2023. NRL's MELSP will use the International Space Station (ISS) to search for production of melanin variants and other useful biomaterials that have applications both on Earth and in space.
NRL ISS Mission seeks new bioinspired materials
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 02, 2023

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Melanized Microbes for Multiple Uses in Space Project, or MELSP, will use the International Space Station (ISS) to search for production of melanin variants and other useful biomaterials that can have applications both on Earth and in space. The mission is scheduled to launch in early November 2023.

Melanin is described as a group of biopolymers responsible for various biological functions, including pigmentation of skin, hair, and iris of the eyes, which helps protect body cells from solar radiation damage.

"The structure and properties of melanin are highly dependent on synthesis and polymerization conditions, therefore the production of melanin in microgravity may lead to new melanin variants with novel physico-chemical properties," said Tiffany Hennessa, Ph.D., research biologist at NRL's Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering (CBMSE) and co-principal investigator of MELSP. "We will investigate how microgravity and cosmic radiation influences microbial melanin production and study the role that melanin plays in adaptation to the ISS environment."

"Despite the significant research that has previously been conducted to understand the structure and properties of melanin, there remains considerable gaps in our knowledge that have hindered our ability to harness melanin for its full potential," said Zheng Wang, Ph.D., principal investigator of MELSP and research biologist at CBMSE. "Assembly and polymerization of melanin in microgravity may lead to 'more perfect' structures with decreased heterogeneity."

NRL scientists will analyze ISS-grown bacterial and fungal strains that lack the protective capacity of melanin to search for novel mechanisms of protection. The project will culture three microbial species on-board the ISS: bacterium Escherichia coli, along with its engineered strain synthesizing eumelanin, two melanized fungal strains: Aspergillus niger and Exophiala lecanii-corni, and their melanin-deficient mutants. Additionally, two defective DNA repair mutants of A. niger will be cultured to study the effects of space radiation on fungal DNA and melanin biosynthesis.

The MELSP project may lead to economic gain across multiple markets by providing invaluable insight into the discovery and development of novel biomaterials. It is anticipated that MELSP will generate information invaluable to the growth of this field, including key insights into melanin biosynthesis and its resulting structure-driven activity that can be harnessed for various applications on Earth.

These efforts will provide the first steps necessary to establish biomaterial production hosts for use during long-term space missions. The MELSP project will contribute to the growing body of data surrounding the influence of spaceflight on biological systems and incorporate novel perspectives on the involvement of melanin in such processes.

Related Links
Naval Research Laboratory
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
The tech to recycle clothes is only just being invented
Hendaye, France (AFP) Nov 1, 2023
The vast waste and pollution caused by the fashion industry has made recycling clothes a top priority, but only now are simple tasks like pulling the sole off a shoe being done by machines. CETIA, a company in the southwest of France is finally offering some mechanical solutions to the challenges of recycling clothes. Its research team has invented a machine that uses artificial intelligence to scan garments, identify hard elements like zippers and buttons, and use a laser to cut them out. ... read more

SwRI's Dr. Alan Stern conducts space research during suborbital spaceflight aboard Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity

Apollo astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly dies aged 87

NASA astronauts Moghbeli and O'Hara embark on rare all-female spacewalk

Australian school students are experimenting with 'space veggies' in a NASA initiative

SQX-2Y rocket demonstrates vertical take-off and landing capabilities

SpinLaunch announces new leadership roles

SpaceX launches 23 Starlink Internet satellites after aborted mission

Hot summer for Europe's reusable rocket engine

Estimating depositional timing on Mars using cosmogenic radionuclide data

Mars Climate Sounder data reveals new cloud trends, study shows

Bewitched Battery: Sols 3994-3995

Scientists discover molten layer covering Martian core

New scientific experimental samples from China's space station return to Earth

Shenzhou XVI crew return after 'very cool journey'

Chinese astronauts return to Earth with fruitful experimental results

Chinese astronauts return to Earth after 'successful' mission

InSPA collaborates with multi-sector partners to fast-track space commercialization

New technologies for the future of European space

Follow NASA's Starling Swarm in Real Time

Fugro SpAARC's operations set to grow with new funding from Western Australian Govt

'Call of Duty', the stalwart video game veteran, turns 20

NRL ISS Mission seeks new bioinspired materials

Panama bans new mining contracts in response to mass protests

NASA's InSPA Aims to Stimulate Commercial Manufacturing in Low Earth Orbit

Scorching, seven-planet system revealed by new Kepler Exoplanet list

Jurassic worlds might be easier to spot than modern Earth

Giant planets cast a deadly pall

ET phone Dublin? Astrophysicists scan the Galaxy for signs of life

Salts and organics observed on Ganymede's surface by June

New jet stream discovered in Jupiter's upper atmosphere

Uranus aurora discovery offers clues to habitable icy worlds

How NASA is protecting Europa Clipper from space radiation

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - 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. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. 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. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.