Microbial Dynamics in International Space Station - I (Microbe-I) - 09.17.14
ISS Science for Everyone
Science Objectives for Everyone
The Microbe-I experiment monitors microbes on board the ISS which may affect the health of crewmembers.
Science Results for Everyone
Scientists are monitoring the abundance and diversity of fungi and bacteria in the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station (ISS). Samples are analyzed approximately one year after the module is installed to the ISS. Microbe detection sheet (MDS) and swab culture tests of orbital samples and examination by electron microscopy show no microbial structures. Fungal DNA is detected, probably from human contamination. This work contributes not only to safety on long-duration spaceflight, but also to development of a standard microbial sampling method for the pharmaceutical and food industries, better hygiene in other closed habitats, and, potentially, better water quality control.
Sponsoring Space Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2009 - September 2010
Previous ISS Missions
- The purpose of this experiment is to monitor microbes in Kibo which may affect the health of crewmembers. And the monitoring of the stress from microbes to crewmember is evaluated as a space medical impact.
Samples were collected from 3 sites in Kibo (air diffuser, handrail, and surfaces) for analysis of fungal biota approximately 1 year after the module had docked to the ISS. Samples taken from Kibo before launch and from our laboratory were used as controls. In the case of Kibo, both microbe detection sheet (MDS) and swab culture tests of orbital samples were negative. The MDS were also examined by field emission-scanning electron microscopy; no microbial structures were detected. However, fungal DNAs were detected by real-time PCR and analyzed by the clone library method; Alternaria sp. and Malassezia spp. were the dominant species before launch and in space, respectively. The dominant species found in specimens from the air conditioner diffuser, lab bench, door push panel, and facility surfaces on the laboratory (ground controls) were Inonotus sp., Cladosporium sp., Malassezia spp., and Pezicula sp., respectively. The fungi in Kibo were probably derived from contamination due to humans, while those in the laboratory came from the environment (e.g., the soil). In conclusion, the cleanliness of Kibo was equivalent to that in a clean room environment on the ground. Microbiological monitoring is important to assure microbiological safety especially in long-duration space habitation. Researchers have continuously monitored the abundance and diversity of bacteria in the ISS-Kibo to accumulate knowledge on microbes in the ISS. From these studies of microbial abundance and their phylogenetic affiliation, scientists concluded that the Kibo has been microbiologically well maintained; however, microbial abundance may increase with prolonged stay of crew members. To ensure crew safety and understand bacterial dynamics in space habitation environments, continuous bacterial monitoring in the Kibo is required.
Satoh K, Nishiyama Y, Yamazaki TQ, Sugita T, Tsukii Y, Takatori K, Benno Y, Makimura K. Microbe-I: fungal biota analyses of Japanese experimental module KIBO, international space station which passed for about 460 days. Microbiology and Immunology. 2011 December; 55(2): 823-829.
Makimura K, Satoh K, Sugita T, Yamazaki TQ. Fungal Biota in Manned Space Environment and Impact on Human Health. Nippon Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2011; 66(1): 77-82. DOI: 10.1265/jjh.66.77. PMID: 21358138. [Japanese]
Ground Based Results Publications
Kawaguchi Y, Yang Y, Kawashiri N, Shiraishi K, Takasu M, Narumi I, Satoh K, Hashimoto H, Nakagawa K, Tanigawa Y, Momoki Y, Tanabe M, Sugino T, Takahashi Y, Shimizu Y, Yoshida S, Kobayashi K, Yokobori S, Yamagishi A. The possible interplanetary transfer of microbes: Assessing the viability of deinococcus spp. under the ISS environmental conditions for performing exposure experiments of microbes in the Tanpopo Mission. Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere: The Journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life. 2013 October 15; epub. DOI: 10.1007/s11084-013-9346-1. PMID: 24132659. [Also: Paper presented at the 12th European Workshop on Astrobiology “EANA’12” in Stockholm, Sweden. (October 15 to 17, 2012). Editors Axel Brandenburg and Nils Holm. ]