Assistant Professor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
For bacteria to thrive in stressful environments, they must communicate with one another through Quorum Sensing (QS), or chemical signals released to the environment. QS allows bacteria to sense the e..
For bacteria to thrive in stressful environments, they must communicate with one another through Quorum Sensing (QS), or chemical signals released to the environment. QS allows bacteria to sense the environment and regulate their cell number and behavior by adjusting their gene expression. This ability is made possible by the production of small chemical molecules called autoinducers (AI). The space environment is known for being a stressful place for bacteria due to space radiation and microgravity (µG). Past research in space has shown that bacteria become more virulent and resistant to antibiotics. By learning the functionality of AIs, new methods to control bacteria outbreaks can be achieved that block these chemical signals. This research project aims to improve the understanding of bacterial QS processes to describe what types of autoinducers are synthesized under simulated µG compared to earth gravity (g). This project will utilize a microgravity analog developed in the Space Microbiology Lab at ERAU. Detecting the AIs will be completed by using genetically modified bacteria, known as “biosensors”, which will luminesce if they find autoinducers produced by the model organism (Vibrio fischeri). Three types of autoinducers (responsible for virulence-related phenotypes) will be detected utilizing this method. To detect each AI, three genetically modified non-pathogenic bacterial strains were selected. The goal of this experiment will be to observe the florescence change of the biosensors between µG and g.