Mitchell K. Villafania Collin Topolski Janelle Hicks Ella Rowe Hugo Castillo
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Assistant Professor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
With the expansion of human space exploration, there is a growing demand to better understand the impacts of space stressors. These stressors include microgravity (µG), space radiation, extreme temper..
With the expansion of human space exploration, there is a growing demand to better understand the impacts of space stressors. These stressors include microgravity (µG), space radiation, extreme temperatures, and extreme isolation. Ongoing research has demonstrated that the space environment alters the physiology of bacteria. The changes observed have included increases in biofilm formation, antibiotic resistance, and growth rate. Understanding the effects on bacteria in these conditions is vital as they can affect astronaut health, spacecraft life support systems, and space crops used for food. The ERAU Space Microbiology Lab (SML) is working to identify how microbial communities are impacted by simulated µG. In natural microbial communities (e.g., human gut microbiome), bacteria can develop antagonistic or synergistic relationships between different species. Based on what we know about the response of individual species to space conditions, their interaction with other species and the host can change as well. By observing community development in simulated µG, we can gain insight on how microbial communities naturally adapt to the space environment. Our research is focused on observing the changes of a mixed culture of two bacteria subjected to simulated µG using the EagleStat, a microgravity analog developed by the SML. The mixed culture consists of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria due to the ability to separate the bacteria visually and physically after simulated µG exposure. Bacterial response will be evaluated by colony composition, biofilm development, antibiotic resistance, and differential gene expression of biofilm and virulence related genes.