Microbial Dynamics in International Space Station - I (Microbe-I) - 02.11.15

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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.

The following content was provided by Koichi Makimura, Ph.D., M.D., Masao Nasu, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Koichi Makimura, Ph.D., M.D., Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Masao Nasu, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Yoshimi Benno, Riken, Saitama, Japan
  • Ryutaro Izumi, JAEA, Japan
  • Shinko Yamaguchi, Osaka University, Japan
  • Takashi Baba, Ph.D., Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
  • Toru Shimazu, Japan Space Forum, Tokyo, Japan
  • Kana Kuriyama, Japan Space Forum, Tsukuba, Japan
  • Katsuji Tani, Ph.D., Osaka Otani University, Osaka, Japan
  • Kazuaki Ichijo, Osaka University, Japan
  • Ichiro Sato, Ph.D., Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Yayoi Nishiyama, Teikyo University Institute of Medical Mycology, Toyko, Japan
  • Takashi Q. Yamazaki, Ph.D., Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
  • Yuji Tsukii, Hosei University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Takashi Sugita, Ph.D., Meiji Pharmaceutical University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Kosuke Takatori, Center for Fungal Consultation, Kanagawa, Japan

  • Developer(s)
    Information Pending

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Information Pending

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    March 2009 - September 2010

    Expeditions Assigned

    Previous ISS Missions
    Information Pending

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • 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.

    Information Pending

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    Space Applications
    Information Pending

    Earth Applications
    Information Pending

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    Operational Requirements
    Information Pending

    Operational Protocols
    Information Pending

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    Results/More Information

    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.


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    Results Publications

      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. DOI: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.2011.00386.x. PMID: 21950271.

      Venkateswaren K, La Duc MT, Horneck G.  Microbial existence in controlled habitats and their resistance to space conditions. Microbes and Environments. 2014 September 17; 29(3): 243-249. DOI: 10.1264/jsme2.ME14032. PMID: 25130881.

      Ichijo T, Hieda H, Ishihara R, Yamaguchi N, Nasu M.  Bacterial monitoring with adhesive sheet in the International Space Station-"Kibo", the Japanese experiment module. Microbes and Environments. 2013 April 20; 28(2): 264-268. DOI: 10.1264/jsme2.ME12184. PMID: 23603802.

      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]

      Yamaguchi N, Roberts MS, Castro S, Oubre C, Makimura K, Leys N, Grohmann E, Sugita T, Ichijo T, Nasu M.  Microbial monitoring of crewed habitats in space—Current status and future perspectives. Microbes and Environments. 2014; 29(3): 250-260. DOI: 10.1264/jsme2.ME14031. PMID: 25130885.

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related 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 EANA12in Stockholm, Sweden. (October 15 to 17, 2012). Editors Axel Brandenburg and Nils Holm.  ]

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    Related Websites

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