Feeds

Space makes germs more deadly

Major Domestos rocket required

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Salmonella likes it in orbit, and not just for the view.

According to research conducted on the International Space Station (ISS), the effects of microgravity trip a switch in the bacterium that makes it much more virulent. The findings, which are to be published in PNAS Online Early Edition suggest astronauts could be at greater risk of developing infections on long space flights.

Although bad news for space-farers, the research could pave the way for better disease control on Earth, the researchers said.

Cheryl Nickerson and colleagues at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Arizona State University, sent up flasks of salmonella on the STS-115 mission to the ISS. They wanted to discover whether or not spaceflight would affect gene expression and the disease-causing potential of a microbial pathogen.

The flask stayed aboard the ISS for just 24 hours. According to The Times, the experiment was kicked off by astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. She opened a chamber in the flask that gave the bacteria access to a growth medium. After 24 hours, part of the sample was drenched in chemicals that would preserve the state of gene expression. The rest was given more of the growth media, and allowed to continue growing.

Meanwhile, back at Arizona State University, Nickerson was running a parallel control experiment, replicating all but the microgravity conditions on the space shuttle.

Once the flask was returned to Earth, Nickerson analysed the bacteria for changes in gene and protein expression levels. Compared to Earth-bound samples, the ISS salmonella typhimurium had altered expression of 167 genes.

Tests on lab mice (pretend they volunteered, alright?) showed that even this short sojourn in microgravity had rendered the microbe three times more deadly. A change in the expression of an important regulator protein, Hfq, is now being linked with the increased deadliness of the sample. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.