Microbial Colonization of Space Stations

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Long-term space station missions to date include Salyut, Almaz, Skylab, Mir, ISS (International Space Station), and Tiangong, with the latter two still ongoing. These expeditions demonstrate that space stations support a diverse microbial community. While most microbes are not harmful, routine microbial monitoring onboard space stations is still essential in preventing material biodeterioration[2] and maintaining crew health[3]. As currently identified, these microorganisms originate from Earth, with main source coming from crewmembers themselves and from materials manufactured on ground. [4] Environmental monitoring is important in identifying microbe and providing data for future studies in attempt to minimize microbial threat to crewmembers’ performance and spacecrafts’ health.



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[4] Pierson, D. L. “Microbial Contamination of Spacecraft.” Journal of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology, 2001, cited October 2012. http://gravitationalandspacebiology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/261

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[7] Vesper, S. J., Wong, W., Kuo, C. M. and Pierson, D. L. “Mold species in dust from the International Space Station identified and quantified by mold-specific quantitative PCR.” Research in Microbiology, 2008, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.resmic.2008.06.001

[8] NASA: International Space Station, cited October 2012. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

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[12] Klaus, D. M. and Howard, H. N. “Antibiotic efficacy and microbial virulence during space flight.” Trends in Biotechnology, 2006, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2006.01.008

[13] Gu, J., Roman, M., Esselman, T. and Mitchell, R. “The role of microbial biofilms in deterioration of spacestation candidate materials.” International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 1998, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0964-8305(98)80005-X

[14] La Duc, M. T., Sumner, R., Pierson, D., Venkat, P. and Venkateswaran, K. “Evidence of pathogenic microbes in the International Space Station drinking water: reason for concern?” UK Pubmed Central, 2004, cited on October 2012. http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/15880908/reload=0;jsessionid=40fVP5QP57u3BxVyDAfi.4

[15] La Duc, M. “103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.” American Society for Microbiology, 2003, cited October 2012. http://www.asm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4205&title=How+Do+I+Get+My+First+Position+as+a+Microbiologist%3F+&Itemid=302

[16] Klintworth, R. and Reher, H. J. “Biological induced corrosion of materials II: New test methods and experiences from Mir station.” Acta Astronautica, 1999, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0094-5765(99)00069-7