Last Published:  11/23/20 11:55:10 AM (Central)
Responsible Element: Human Health Countermeasures (HHC)
Status: Open
Present state of knowledge: Operational crew health monitoring and spaceflight research indicates that the microbial ecology of the International Space Station (ISS) reflects the types of microorganisms commonly identified in terrestrial homes. However, these organisms do include opportunistic pathogens and possibly obligate pathogens that could impact crew health and performance. Spaceflight research has also demonstrated unique phenotypic and transcriptomic responses to spaceflight culture in microbial populations on the ISS. However, our understanding of which organisms are affected and how their characteristics will be changed has been limited to the specific organisms used for a given experiment. Importantly for crew health concerns, both Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Serratia marcescens have demonstrated increased virulence in response to growth in the spaceflight environment. How these and other observations can be translated to other microorganisms is unclear and requires further evaluation.

Research approach: Evaluation of targeted microbiomes (including transcritomics, targeted genomics, proteomics, and epigenetics) of the built environment and the host (both being subjected to confined, isolated and weightless conditions), phenotypic evaluation of microorganisms (including virulence studies) and temporal changes for these parameters under both spaceflight and spaceflight analogue conditions. A large portion of this work (microbiome of the built environment, for example) is under the purview of NASA’s Space Biology (SB) program, and data will be shared between SB and HRP to form a comprehensive understanding of this gap. HRP will fund studies via solicited and directed mechanisms, including data mining and large-data modeling using all previously collected data in HRP/SB/CASIS/operational databases, studies conducted on astronauts flying on ISS, Gateway, and Lunar missions, isolation and confinement ground analogs, rotating bioreactors, and animal studies.
Target for Closure
Understand the changes in numbers, types, and virulence of microbes under conditions of isolation, confinement and weightlessness.
Risk Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-Microorganism Interactions
You are here! Gap Micro-101: Evaluate the effects of isolation, confinement and weightlessness on changes in the vehicle microbiome, the human microbiome, and microbial virulence.

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