BIOKon In Space (BIOKIS) - 07.29.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
BIOKon In Space (BIOKIS) involves the investigation of seven experiments sponsored by the Italian Space Agency (ASI-Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) in the areas of cellular biology, radiation and radioprotection, aging, germination and plant growth. These experiments will aim to evaluate various biological species to determine genetic distinctions following short-duration space flight; also, BIOKIS will utilize a variety of dosimeters to monitor radiation.

Science Results for Everyone

This investigation evaluates a number of plant and animal species for genetic alterations while monitoring radiation levels using a variety of dosimeters. Findings include: space did not alter formation of yeast spores but may affect hybrid growth;  no differences were found in germination rates of the Arabidopsis plant; mutant cells displayed higher growth performance and faster re-growth after flight, indicating high capacity for stress recovery; survival and reproduction of two small, water-dwelling animals seemed unaffected by microgravity or cosmic radiation.



This content was provided by Pier Luigi Ganga, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details

OpNom

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Pier Luigi Ganga, Kayser Italia s.r.l., Livorno, Italy

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Mariagabriella Pugliese, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
  • Alba Zanini, Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare sez., Torino, Italy
  • Duccio Cavalieri, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  • Emanuele Pace, Università di Firenze, Florence, Italy
  • Giuseppina Rea, National Council of Research Monterotondo Scalo, Rome, Italy
  • Lorena Rebecchi, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Emilia, Italy
  • Stefano Mancuso, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

  • Developer(s)
    Kayser Italia Srl., Livorno, , Italy

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Italian Space Agency (ASI)

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    March 2011 - September 2011

    Expeditions Assigned
    27/28

    Previous ISS Missions
    Increment 23/24 is the first ISS mission planned for BIOKIS.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • BIOKon In Space (BIOKIS) is a multidisciplinary scientific experiment in which various biological species will be evaluated for genetic alterations following short-duration space flight.


    • BIOKIS will also utilize a variety of dosimeters to monitor radiation following short-duration space flight.


    • BIOKIS will aim to investigate the following seven experiments sponsored by the Italian Space Agency: BioS-SPORE, PHOTO-EVOLUTION, HiDOSE, TARDIKISS, 3DISS, nDOSE, and Arabidops-ISS.

    Description


    BIOKIS - BioS-SPORE
    Spores are a common strategy for yeast cell dissemination and colonization of novel environments. Assessing spore survival during space flights is of interest for the yeast ability to colonize new environments. To understand the molecular mechanisms of reproductive isolation is of great interest for evolutionary biology. Reproductive isolation leads to the generation of novel species-spores of interspecific hybrids are not viable. In many cases, parental species readily mate but the hybrid offspring is inviable or infertile. In rare cases, formation of hybrid species has adaptive purposes (i.e. survival in extreme habitats). The role of gravity in interspecific hybridization generation of new species remains to be assessed.

    BIOKIS - ArabidopS-ISS
    ArabidopS-ISS involves the microscopy analysis of root ultrastructure to assess statoliths, actin filaments and the localization and organization of microtubules. ArabidopS also deals with the alterations in whole gene expression due to microgravity, as well as the analysis of genes involved in the gravitropic response (a plant's ability to change its growth in response to gravity); with particular attention to the ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) signalling chain.

    BIOKIS - HiDOSE
    Thermo luminescence dosimeters are used to measure the exposure dose to charged particles for biology experiments executed on board STS. HiDOSE also involves the monitoring of primary cosmic radiation.

    BIOKIS - PHOTO-EVOLUTION
    The unicellular photosynthetic alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (single celled green alga), is an easy to cultivate model system widely used in photosynthetic studies having also innovative technological relevance. The space tolerance of some C. reinhardtii strains mutated in the reaction center protein D1, which is the main responsibility of the algal photochemistry, has already been tested during the ASI balloon and Foton-Biopan ESA missions in 2005 and 2007. The obtained results brought indications that some mutants are able to maintain high photosynthetic performance under space environment, most probably utilizing the space radiation to support electron transport. After flight, some of these mutants showed an increased oxygen evolution capacity compared to the reference strain. Algae are not naturally adapted to space environment, however single amino acid substitution in D1 protein resulted in the selection of radiation tolerant/resistant strains. Researchers associated with this study hypothesized a positive correlation between D1 protein structure and space tolerance/resistance. The directed evolution approach allows researchers to isolate a huge amount of mutants in a short period of time; whereby characterization could help identify strains with improved photosynthetic performance. Scientists will exploit a random mutagenesis (changes in the DNA of a cell) approach by error-prone PCR (technique used to introduce amino acid changes into proteins) to generate a pool of D1 variants and space or on-ground ionizing radiation sources (such as neutrons and protons) as selective pressure to isolate tolerant strains.

    BIOKIS - TARDIKISS
    Tardigrades or Water Bears are multicellular organisms (usually 200-800 micrometers in length). These organisms are usually found living in a marine or freshwater, but above all, they can be found in the terrestrial environment. Constituted by a constant cell number, these organisms could be cultured in a lab. They are characterized by having a long lifespan and new generations form in a relatively short time. Other aspects of these organisms include clonal lineages, the ability to naturally tolerate desiccation (state of extreme dryness) by entering a state called anhydrobiosis (a state in which an organism’s metabolic activities come to a reversible standstill usually occurring in situations of extreme dehydration), and the ability to perform anhydrobiosis from egg to adult.

    BIOKIS - 3DISS
    3DISS involves the use of tissue equivalent, biocompatible, offline dosimeters based on a diamond material which enables the fabrication of versatile dosimeters utilized to monitor personal and experimental environments. The use of a semiconductor material provides a real-time reading of the on-orbit dosimetric information beforehand. The use of inert genetic material (bacterial DNA and RNA) yields integration (without biological self-repairing effects) of the real radiation damage suffered as a result of the radiation environment inside of the spacecraft.

    BIOKIS - nDOSE
    While on orbit and in high altitude aircraft, humans are exposed to a complex mixed radiation field. The evaluation of neutron components concerning the radiation environment in spacecrafts, both in LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) orbits and in deep space, is of great importance because of their high LET (Linear Energy Transfer); especially in view of long-term space missions as on the ISS; whereby neutrons can produce dramatic damages to the health of astronauts as well as the instrumentation. With the proposed measurement system, based on neutron bubble detectors and stack bismuth track detectors combined with a suitable unfolding code, it will be possible to calculate the neutron energy spectrum in the range from thermal energy, which is the only correct approach, to the estimation of neutron dose.

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    Applications

    Space Applications


    BIOKIS - BioS-SPORE
    These studies could be important when assessing the importance of space flight concerning generations of diversity and the birth of new species. Assessing viability of spores during space flight could be relevant to assessing the possibility of transporting terrestrial species to non-terrestrial ecosystems.

    BIOKIS - ArabidopS-ISS
    This experiment will elucidate the role of cytoskeleton in gravisensing and the genes involved in the ROS signaling chain. The International Space Station is the only facility able to permit long-term microgravity conditions.

    BIOKIS - HiDOSE
    This experiment monitors primary cosmic radiation.

    BIOKIS - PHOTO-EVOLUTION
    For long-term space missions and permanence on space platforms such as the International Space Station, the isolation of microorganisms with improved tolerance to ionizing radiation represents a fundamental issue in order to be utilized as self-regenerating oxygen producing life supporting system. The exploitation of green algae compared to higher plants allows researchers to optimize the space utilization on ISS as a large algal biomass, which could be grown in relatively small-sized photobioreactors (plastic tubes exposed to sunlight).

    BIOKIS - TARDIKISS
    Since the exposure to the space environment can induce rapid changes in living systems, this study aims to define the countermeasures needed to protect sensitive organisms, including humans, which are not naturally able to withstand extreme stresses under space conditions; and for the study of future long-term explorations of the solar system.

    BIOKIS - 3DISS
    Absorbed radiation measurements will be used to improve the safety of crewmembers, and to develop more efficient radiation shielding.

    BIOKIS - nDOSE
    In the space environment, humans are exposed to a complex mixed radiation field. The evaluation of neutron components of the radiation environment in spacecraft, both in LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) orbits and in deep space, is of great importance because of their high LET (Linear Energy Transfer); especially in view of long-term space missions as on the ISS; whereby neutrons can produce dramatic damages to the health of astronauts as well as the instrumentation.

    Earth Applications


    BIOKIS - BioS-SPORE
    This study will inspire future scientists to pursue a career studying the influence of space flight on fertility, which will ultimately improve human existence on orbit.

    BIOKIS - ArabidopS-ISS
    This study will inspire future scientists to pursue a career studying alterations in plant physiology associated with space flight, which will ultimately improve human existence on orbit.

    BIOKIS - HiDOSE
    This study can lead to further understanding of how radiation may affect human function on Earth as well as in space.

    BIOKIS - PHOTO-EVOLUTION
    The availability of regenerating an oxygen supporting system is of great relevance in space as well as on Earth. For environmental purposes, algae cultures could be applicable to the polluted water of civil and industrial wastewater biological oxidation processes. For medical applications, algae cultures could be used as an artificial lung that can replace the gas exchange function of a person’s native lungs during recovery from injury or illness, or until donor lungs are available for transplantation.

    BIOKIS - TARDIKISS
    This study can improve human life and aging on Earth by engineering new molecules and metabolites for tissue and cell conservation, which can be used for developing countermeasures against radiation and aging.

    BIOKIS - 3DISS
    The same bio-dosimeters developed for this experiment on orbit can be used in Earth applications to develop more efficient radiation shielding.

    BIOKIS - nDOSE
    This research supports the study of neutron dosimetry concerning high altitude flights; neutron dosimetry concerning high altitude countries (e.g. Bolivia); and generally, it will provide accurate measurements of neutron dosimetry concerning medical physics and radiotherapy.

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    Operations

    Operational Requirements
    No observation is required by the crewmember. A late stow before launch, an early unstow (on-orbit), another late stow before re-entry (on-orbit) and an early retrieval (after re-entry) is required to reduce the phase of no illumination of PHOTO-EVOLUTION experiment. Manual activation of BioS-SPORE and ArabidopS-ISS is required on-orbit. Return of samples to ground is required for the post-flight analysis.

    Operational Protocols


    BIOKIS - BioS-SPORE
    This experiment will be performed using a custom experiment unit placed on the Kayser Italia developed BIOKIS BIOKON container. The ISS crew will perform the BioS-SPORE Activation I and Setup activities followed by the retrieval of the BIOKIS Bag #2, activation of 8 BioS-SPORE pistons (with the BioS-SPORE Activation Tool), and the assembly of the BIOKIS 002 container with Velcro, so that PHOTO-EVOLUTION views environmental light.

    The BioS-SPORE Activation II activity involves the activation of 4 BioS-SPORE pistons (with the BioS-SPORE Activation Tool), followed by the assembly of the BIOKIS 002 container with Velcro, so that PHOTO-EVOLUTION views environmental light.

    BIOKIS - ArabidopS-ISS
    This experiment will be performed using a custom experiment unit placed on the Kayser Italia developed BIOKIS BIOKON container. The Arabidops-ISS activation requires rotating 8 screws 90 degrees clockwise using the ArabidopS-ISS activation tool, followed by the assembly of the BIOKIS 002 container with Velcro, so that PHOTO-EVOLUTION views environmental light.

    Seedlings of Arabidopsis WT (Wild-Type) and 1-2 agravitropic mutants will be grown in a Petri dish filled with agar and nutrients. Samples will be fixed with RNAlater® prior to entry into Earth’s gravitational field. Temperature and acceleration data will be recorded.

    BIOKIS - HiDOSE
    This experiment will be performed using dosimeters placed on the BIOKIS BIOKON container (developed by Kayser Italia). Thermo luminescence (emission of light) dosimeters are used to measure the exposure dose to charged particles for biology experiments executed on board STS.

    BIOKIS - PHOTO-EVOLUTION
    This experiment will be performed using dosimeters placed on the BIOKIS BIOKON container (developed by Kayser Italia). Select mutants will be layered on solid agar and sealed in the Photo I instrument in the presence of light.

    BIOKIS - TARDIKISS
    This experiment will be performed using dosimeters placed on the BIOKIS BIOKON container (developed by Kayser Italia).

    BIOKIS - 3DISS
    This experiment will be performed using dosimeters placed on the BIOKIS BIOKON container (developed by Kayser Italia). Diamond dosimeters will measure the absorbed radiation dose equivalent to a living tissue. LiF (Lithium Fluoride) dosimeters will be used to cross calibrate the diamond dosimeters. The genetic material will measure the real genetic damage suffered (single and double filament ruptures, cross-links, and once revitalized, the maintenance of the enzymatic capability).

    BIOKIS - nDOSE
    This experiment will be performed using dosimeters placed on the BIOKIS BIOKON container (developed by Kayser Italia). The neutron component of the radiation environment will be evaluated by using bubble detectors. The neutron bubble detector is available in different types: BDT (Bubble Detector Thermal), BD-PND (Bubble Detector - Personal Neutron Dosimeter) and Relativistic Neutrons.

    The BIOKIS 002 hardware should be stowed until returned to ground for analysis.

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    Results/More Information

    BIOKIS-BioS-SPORE
    Sporulation of the yeasts included in the experiment was not found to be altered by the space environment. However, it was found that some species of Saccharomyces genus could not germinate in space flight, suggesting that germination is species and possibly strain dependent. There were also differences in spore viability suggesting that space flight affects hybrid viability, and thus formation of new species.
     

    BIOKIS-ArabidopS-ISS
    No differences in the germination rate were found in both the genotypes under flight and ground conditions. It was also noted that the hypocotyls (structures that eventually form the plant stems) were long due to the seeds being kept in darkness in all conditions and genotypes.
     

    BIOKIS-HiDOSE
    The preliminary results indicate that the dose equivalent rate due to space radiation exposure during the STS-134 mission is 320µSv/die (measured by TLD100 and TLD700) and 360µSv (measured by TLD600), according with the results obtained from long-duration flights.
     

    BIOKIS-PHOTO-EVALUATION
    After flight, the mutant cells displayed a higher photosynthetic performance and a faster rate of re-growth indicating a higher capacity of stress recovering. The enhanced capability to survive the cosmic adverse conditions has been related to a particular localization of the amino acid substitution in the D-1 structure.
     

    BIOKIS-TARDIKISS
    Flight tardigrades, small water-dwelling animals, of two species showed a very high postflight survival rate, unaffected by microgravity or cosmic radiation. Flight females laid eggs with normal shape that were able to hatch. Newborns exhibited normal morphology and behavior and also laid viable eggs at sexual maturity.
     

    BIOKIS-3DISS
    Work is in progress to analyze the DNA from the dosimeters and the Eppendorf vials and to measure the dose integrated by the diamond dosimeters.
     

    BIOKIS-nDOSE
    The average neutron dose of 17.2µSv/day ±20% has been estimated. The bismuth stack detector is still under analysis and the experimental results will be published in future papers.

    All results presented in the listed publication are preliminary results and proved that the experiment was performed as expected. Analyses are on the way for each one of the experiment involved in BIOKIS.

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    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites

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    Imagery

    image Image of the BIOKON hardware. Image courtesy of ASI.
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    image NASA Image: S134E006385 - BIOKIS
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