Gravitational effects on Pseudomonas aeruginosa growth and biofilm formation

Kim, Wooseong
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Collins, Cynthia H.
Plawsky, Joel L., 1957-
Dordick, Jonathan S.
Barquera, Blanca L.
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Chemical and biological engineering
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Understanding the effects of spaceflight on microbial communities is crucial for the success of long-term, manned space missions. Abundant biofilms were found in the Mir space station and were responsible for increasing corrosion and blocking a water purification system. They continue to be a challenge on the International Space Station. Health and safety hazards linked to the development of biofilms are also of great concern because of the decrease in immune function observed in space travelers. We sent Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen and a model organism for biofilm studies, into space during two Atlantis missions (STS-132 and STS-135). We observed that P. aeruginosa grown during spaceflight exhibited increased growth relative to normal gravity controls when low concentrations of phosphate in the media were combined with decreased oxygen availability. Although motility has been suggested to affect how microbes respond to microgravity, we observed that both wild type and the motility mutant responded similarly to the microgravity environment. We characterized biofilms formed during spaceflight.
August 2013
School of Engineering
Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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