Biological Research in Canisters-21 (BRIC-21) (BRIC-21) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
One of the most challenging aspects of spaceflight is the combination of suppressed immunity and increased microbial virulence, which could lead to serious infections. Microbes that evolve to resist antibiotics would be particularly difficult to control. The Biological Research in Canisters-21 (BRIC-21) investigation studies two forms of bacteria to determine how they respond to the stressful environment of space, and whether their individual responses change their susceptibility to antibiotics.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Wayne Nicholson, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: BRIC-21

Principal Investigator(s)
Wayne Nicholson, Ph.D., University of Florida, Merritt Island, FL, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Patricia Fajardo-Cavazos, University of Florida - Space Life Sciences Laboratory, Merritt Island, FL, United States

Developer(s)
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, 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, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015

Expeditions Assigned
43/44

Previous Missions
BRIC-PDFU hardware has flown previously on STS-87, STS-107, STS-131, STS-135, SpaceX-2, SpaceX-3, SpaceX-4, and SpaceX-5.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

The goals of the BRIC-21 investigation are to:
  • Analyze microbes to identify the suite of stress responses induced by exposure to spaceflight and simulated microgravity, and
  • Determine viability, resistance levels to a battery of antibiotics, and rates of spontaneous mutation to antibiotic resistance in microbes.

Description

The objective of this experiment is to determine that spaceflight stress responses vary depending on the organism studied because each species of microbe is endowed with its own unique collection of stress response systems, some leading to alterations in their antibiotic susceptibility. Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus epidermidis are grown aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The specimens are frozen on-orbit, and then thawed for analysis. A subset of cultivated specimens is analyzed using Whole Transcriptome Shotgun Sequencing to identify the suite of stress responses induced by exposure to spaceflight and simulated microgravity. A second subset of cultivated specimens is analyzed to determine viability, resistance levels to a battery of antibiotics in the Omnilog system, and rates of spontaneous mutation to antibiotic resistance.

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Applications

Space Applications
Several studies have demonstrated that crew members’ immune systems are weakened in space, while at the same time the antibiotic resistance and virulence of certain bacteria strengthens. This investigation determines how different bacteria respond to the stressful environment of space, and whether some of these responses affect their ability to withstand antibiotics.

Earth Applications
Several types of bacteria have been evolving to resist even the most potent antibiotics, posing a challenge for hospitals. Understanding how antibiotic resistance develops in space could lead to better methods for fighting hospital-acquired infections. Hospitals and other clinical settings in some way mirror spacecraft; in both situations, humans with compromised immune systems live together in close quarters for extended periods.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

BRIC-21 is a sortie flight. Samples are returned on the same flight, and have the following operational requirements:  late stow of experiment at L-24 hrs in a cargo transfer bag. Actuation should be performed by the crew at less than L+21 days. Samples are to be frozen in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) prior to double cold bag packing in preparation for return to Earth.

The BRIC-21 payload is stowed in a cargo transfer bag for ascent to the ISS on the Space-X Dragon Spacecraft. At no later than 40 hours prior to double cold bag packing in preparation for return, the payload hardware is accessed for activation. A rod is removed from the Rod Kit and inserted into the BRIC-PDFU Actuator Tool, ensuring the clip is installed. The Actuator Tool is attached to the selected BRIC-PDFU canister lid in position 1, and is used to mechanically force a growth medium into the Petri dishes. This process is repeated until all the PDFUs are activated in all four canisters. After a 24-hour growth period, the canisters are transferred to the MELFI for freezing of the samples at -80°C or less.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

CategoryReference
Plant and Microbial Biology P1
Plant and Microbial Biology P2

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Dr. Fajardo-Cavazos - UF Faculty Directory
Dr. Nicholson - UF Faculty Directory

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Imagery

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BRIC Canister

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BRIC Actuator Tool

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image NASA Image: ISS043E127535 - ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti taken during activation of all four Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC)-21 experiment.
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image NASA Image: ISS043E127531 - ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti taken during activation of all four Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC)-21 experiment.
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