ARC ISS Drosophila Experiment (Fruit Fly Lab-01 (FFL-01)) - 02.27.19

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is an important animal model for the human immune system, making it a useful model for studying the biological effects of spaceflight. Spaceflight affects the innate immune system, which could make animals including humans more susceptible to disease, especially because microbes can become hardier and more virulent in space. The NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) ISS Drosophila Experiment (Fruit Fly Lab-01) studies the combined effect of altered host immunity with changes to microbes in space.
Science Results for Everyone
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Experiment Details

OpNom: Fruit Fly Lab-01 (FFL-01)

Principal Investigator(s)
Sharmila Bhattacharya, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Information Pending

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2014 - March 2015

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Fungal Pathogenesis, Tumorigenesis, and Effects of Host Immunity in Space (FIT) Experiment, Shuttle Sortie on STS-121 (2006)

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Experiment Description

Research Overview
Since the research team has characterized the effects of the space environment on the innate immune system of the fly, and several other studies have investigated its effects on microbes, it is important to look at the combined host-microbe system to determine potential consequences of space flight. An identification of the molecular biological changes within this system provides not only a mechanistic understanding of the changes induced in space, but also provides a basis for future countermeasure studies. The Drosophila innate immune system is highly homologous to the mammalian innate immune system, and provides useful translational information for other organisms as well.

This investigation utilizes frozen in-flight samples, inflight video data, and live returned samples to test the hypothesis that spaceflight causes a large effect on the in-vivo interaction between a host-microbe system. Research results have previously shown decrements of the innate immune system of the fruit fly after space flight, and the work of others showing altered physiology of microbial cultures in space. For this experiment, changes are measured in immune parameters, post-flight assays are conducted to assess host-microbial interactions, and video data is used to assess behavioral changes, as well asviability readouts resulting from space flight exposure. There is a 1g centrifuge on the ISS, and a ground 1g control to compare with the microgravity samples in this experiment. The study uses and builds on hardware and operational procedures utilized previously for the FIT experiment on STS-121.

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Space Applications
Previous studies have shown spaceflight can make microbes more virulent and more resistant to antibacterial treatment. Research has also demonstrated spaceflight-related changes to the fly innate immune system, the first line of defense against invading bacteria and viruses. This investigation studies host-microbe interactions in space, which provides insight on the potential health consequences of spaceflight if microbes are stronger and immunity is weaker. Identifying the molecular changes at work helps scientists understand how the immune system functions, and how to design future countermeasures to keep crew members healthy.

Earth Applications
The fruit fly's innate immune system is comparable to the mammalian innate immune system, so understanding immune system changes on a molecular level provides insight into the body's first line of defense against pathogens. Knowledge of how the immune system works, and how patients with weaker immune systems can get sick, benefits immuno-compromised patients on Earth.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
Crew operations required for installation of units, sample collection, freezing of samples, and proper stowage of units for return to Earth. Images of the flies are obtained automatically and downlinked.
Cassettes are installed in modified double-volume Type-I containers on the NanoRacks/Astrium centrifuge and on the NanoRacks microgravity rack. At TBD time, remove containers from centrifuge and microgravity rack and remove cassettes; replace food trays, freeze samples, reinsert cassettes into Type-I containers and replace on centrifuge and microgravity rack. Repeat 3 times at TBD intervals. Remove cassettes from centrifuge and microgravity rack and stow for return to Earth.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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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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image Image of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). Image courtesy of AMES.
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image Image of researcher working with Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). Image courtesy of AMES.
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image Image of Fruit Fly Lab hardware. Image courtesy of AMES.
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