BRIC - Natural Product under Microgravity (BRIC-NP) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Fungal organisms are well known for the production of a large number of compounds that have benefits for human medicine (e.g., antibiotics and anticancer drugs) and agriculture (e.g., antifungal agents to protect crops). In the BRIC-Natural Products (BRIC-NP) investigation, radiation-tolerant fungal strains isolated from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are exposed to spaceflight conditions on board the International Space Station (ISS), and then screened for the biological production of beneficial medical or agricultural substances.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Kasthuri Venkateswaran, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: BRIC-Natural Products

Principal Investigator(s)
Kasthuri Venkateswaran, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Clay Wang, Ph.D., USC School of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Tamas Torok, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States

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

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2015 - March 2016; March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
45/46,47/48

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The capability of microorganisms to produce a plethora of biologically active secondary metabolites is well known.
  • Natural compounds isolated from fungal strains have proven to be of great use to humankind.
  • Secondary metabolic byproducts constitute a rich source of compounds that can be used directly as tools and building blocks for the design of useful biological products.
  • This has led to the investigation of natural products for applications in human medicine (e.g., antibiotic, immunosuppressant, and anticancer drugs) and agriculture (e.g., antifungal agents to protect economically important crops).
  • Fungal strains isolated from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (ChNPP) and the ISS are screened for the production of natural products that could be beneficial for biomedical and agricultural applications.
  • Radiation-tolerant microorganisms were selected for this BRIC-Natural Products (BRIC-NP because a) they are known to produce valuable natural products; b) their genomic sequences indicate secondary metabolic pathways; and c) have the ability to grow under conditions where elevated levels of radiation occur.

Description

Natural bioactive compounds, including antimicrobial peptides, have proven to be of great use to humankind. The capability of fungal organisms to produce a plethora of bioactive secondary metabolites is well known. This knowledge has led to investigation of natural products for applications in human medicine (e.g., antibiotic, immunosuppressant, and anticancer drugs) and agriculture (e.g., antifungal agents to protect economically important crops). Indeed, secondary metabolism constitutes a rich source of biologically produced chemical compounds and reactions that can be used directly, or by synthetic biology, as tools and building blocks for the design of useful biological products.
 
In the BRIC-Natural Products (BRIC-NP) investigation, fungal strains isolated from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (ChNPP) accident are screened for the secretion of natural products that could be beneficial for biomedical and agricultural applications. In particular, these radiation-tolerant microorganisms are selected for this study because they are known to produce valuable natural products as a) their genomic sequences contain secondary metabolism pathways, or b) they display a direction of growth towards a source of radiation (radiotropism). In summary, the focus of the investigation is to explore the production of secondary metabolites made within the fungal organisms in response to spaceflight exposure.

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Applications

Space Applications
Information Pending

Earth Applications
The novel (or unique) compounds produced by these fungal strains following growth under spaceflight conditions could lead to the discovery of valuable medical or agricultural products, providing great benefits to humankind.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
Spores from 8 fungal strains, seeded in suitable growth media, are kept at low temperature (4˚C), loaded onto BRIC payload hardware, and exposed to microgravity in 5 replicates. The requested exposure time period under microgravity is 7 to 14 days. During the time that the experiment is carried out on orbit, a control experiment is duplicated on Earth. Once completed, the microgravity-exposed samples are returned to Earth to analyze various microbial and molecular characterizations. The relative humidity and temperature data of the ISS during the time period when the fungal samples are exposed under microgravity is desired.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery