ISS: a mutant bacteria develops great resistance on board the Space Station (

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NASA notes that the Enterobacter bugandensis bacteria, spotted on board the International Space Station, has mutated and shown “formidable resistance”.

ISS bacteria
The ISS allows scientists from around the world to research the environment
spatial (Illustration). /Stock

A bacteria brought back by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) intrigues NASA researchers. In a study published in the scientific journal microbiome, they note that the one we call Enterobacter bugandensis ( E. bugandesis) has adapted to the environment of the ISS.

Different bacteria in space

In total, 13 strains of this bacteria, known to be multi-resistant, were isolated. “Under the effect of stress, the strains isolated from the ISS mutated and became genetically and functionally distinct from their terrestrial counterparts,” notes Dr Kasthuri Venkateswaran of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, responsible for monitoring the proliferation of bacteria and microorganisms in the ISS.

The study highlights that despite the extreme environment subject to microgravity, radiation and high levels of carbon dioxide, microorganisms are able to adapt. “The ISS strains E. bugandensis presented resistance mechanisms that classify them within the ESKAPE pathogenic group, a group of pathogens recognized for their formidable resistance to antimicrobial treatments,” emphasize the researchers.

The need for preventive measures

In addition to resistance, the bacteria naturally present in the body and which does not normally cause disease, could be made more virulent because of the space environment and cause serious blood infections.

Based on scientists' observations, viable strains on board the station spread significantly. In some cases, they even helped microorganisms with which they coexisted to survive.

The proliferation of these bacteria is a risk “to be taken very seriously”, according to an article from the CEA-Leti Research Institute. The study, for its part, emphasizes the need to take preventive measures against “potential pathogenic threats”, in space but also on Earth.