Bacterial Acclimation and Adaptation to the Space Environment Conditions-A (BASE-A) - 09.17.14

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The BASE-A investigation will study the effect of microgravity on bacteria and how bacteria adapts to the microgravity environment on ISS. The data provided by this investigation will give scientists valuable insight into how basic organisms adapt to new environments. This information could prove valuable when planning future long duration expeditions to the Moon and Mars.

Science Results for Everyone

Bacteria are leading the way in adapting to living in space. Scientists looked at how bacteria cope and adapt to different conditions of space flight such as weightlessness, cosmic radiation, space electromagnetism, and space vibrations. Results show that growth, spontaneous mutation, and numbers of bacteria on the station behaved similarly to ground experiments.  Some proteins involved in metabolism were more active in space, and it was demonstrated for the first time that low-dose space radiation can change the activity of some genes. Further studies on the effects of low-dose ionizing radiation on bacteria could assess how adaptation might affect space habitat contamination, crew health, waste recycling, and food production systems.

The following content was provided by Natalie Leys, M.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Erasmus Experiment Archive.

Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Natalie Leys, M.D., Belgium Nuclear Research Center, Boeretang, Belgium

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Pieter Cornelis, M.D., Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, Brussels, Belgium
  • Ruddy Wattiez, University of Mons-Hainaut, Mons, Belgium
  • Martina A. Heer, Ph.D., University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
  • Max Mergeay, D.Sc., Belgium Nuclear Research Center, Mol, Belgium

  • Developer(s)
    Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, Mol, , Belgium

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    European Space Agency (ESA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Information Pending

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    September 2006 - April 2007

    Expeditions Assigned

    Previous ISS Missions
    Information Pending

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • The BASE-A investigation will provide confirmation and analysis of previous observations on short duration mission in microgravity.

    • The BASE-A investigation will allow the comparison of response of multiple bacteria under similar culturing conditions in space.

    In the BASE-A (Bacterial Adaptation to Space Environments-A) experiment, the science team will study how bacteria cope and adapt to the different space flight environmental parameters (e.g. weightlessness, cosmic radiation, space electromagnetism, space vibrations). Based on these results, scientists will try to assess how such adaptations might influence their potential to contaminate and biodeteriorate the space habitat, their potential to endanger crew health, or their function in waste recycling or food production systems. In the BASE project, scientists will also study the physiology, gene expression, gene rearrangement and gene transfer of cultures of several model bacteria grown under microgravity and other space flight conditions.

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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


    The bacteria used for MESSAGE and BASE experiments included R. rubrum S1H as MELiSSA bacterium and Cupriavidus metalidurans CH34 as an example of a bacterium adapted to a variety of harsh environments, including the clean rooms where satellites are built (Mergeay et al., 2009).  Growth, spontaneous mutants and viable counts were similar to ground experiments. Proteomic data show limited effects of spaceflight conditions, especially for C. metallidurans, although some uncommon proteins involved in acetone metabolism, were found to be over-expressed in space. Transcriptomic data were mainly obtained for R. rubrum and provided information about the importance of experimental design and the effect of low doses of cosmic radiation. This effect was mainly revealed in the BASE-A spaceflight experiment where various over-expressed genes matched those found during ground tests of ISS radiation. Thus, for the first time studies showed a low dose of ionizing radiation (2 mGy) can induce a significant response at the transcriptomic level, although no change in cell viability was observed (Mastroleo, 2009). This experiment will surely stimulate further studies of effects of low-dose ionizing radiation in bacteria. These will be paramount for implementation of bioreactors in spaceflight and on planetary stations.


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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
    The information on this page is provided courtesy of the ESA Erasmus Experiment Archive.
    The information provided is courtesy of the ESA Astrolab Mission web page.

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    image Example of Kubik incubator with centrifuge configuration loaded with experiment containers. Image courtesy of ESA.
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