International Space Station—Microbial Observatory of Pathogenic Viruses, Bacteria, and Fungi (ISS-MOP) Project (Microbial Tracking-2) - 08.09.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The ISS Microbial Tracking series-2 continues the monitoring of the types of microbes that are present on the International Space Station (ISS). Microbial Tracking-2 (MT-2) seeks to catalog and characterize potential disease-causing microorganisms aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Crew samples from pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight times in addition to environmental samples from ISS surface and air locations will be collected to analyze any associations between the microbial content of the samples, as well as potential health effects.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom: Microbial Tracking-2

Principal Investigator(s)
Crystal Jaing, Ph.D., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Kasthuri Venkateswaran, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
Duane L. Pierson, Ph.D., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
Satish K. Mehta, Ph.D., Enterprise Advisory Services Incorporated, Houston, TX, United States
David Smith, Ph.D., NASA Ames, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Developer(s)
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Space Life and Physical Sciences (NASA Research-SLPS)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - September 2017; September 2017 - February 2018; -

Expeditions Assigned
51/52,53/54,55/56

Previous Missions
Microbial Observatory-2 follows the footprint of Microbial Observatory-1 which will be conducted during SpaceX6, 7, and 8. Air and surface samples will be collected using the SWAB Air Sampling Device, polyester wipes, SWAB tubes, contact slides and Opsite Flexgrid.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview
International Space Station – Microbial Observatory of Pathogenic Virus, Bacteria, and Fungi (ISS-MOP) project measures the microbial contaminants associated with various ISS modules using traditional culture-based methods, and state-of-the art molecular techniques. The objectives of the ISS-MOP project are to detect viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens and establish possible correlation with crew members. The effects of the spaceflight environment on viral and microbial pathogen dynamics are largely unknown and represent both a significant gap in our knowledge and an important opportunity to predict health risks during long-term space exploration.

Description
The Microbial Tracking-2 research project provides the NASA Space Biology Program with an opportunity to understand the total microbial communities of crew-associated environments to a degree that has not previously been possible. The Microbial Tracking-2 project generates vast amounts of data stemming from a number of state-of-the-art molecular methods. The high-throughput Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) and next generation sequencing technologies allow researchers not only to describe the ISS microbiome, but also to determine whether any viral, bacterial, and fungal species detected are known pathogens that may affect crew health. Microbiological cultivation based approaches will isolate any viable bacteria or fungi organisms from the ISS environmental samples. The combination of cultivation-based and high-throughput molecular methods will reveal a subset of novel and medically important microbes posing particular threats to crew health. The sequencing data of the novel microbes isolated and samples collected may feed forward into downstream functional genomics studies. The entire experimental and “omics” data generated, from the project will be deposited in NASA Life Sciences Data Archive so the data can be used effectively for future NASA missions.

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Applications

Space Applications

The Microbial Tracking-2 study investigates the microbial communities onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Additionally, this investigation looks at the following:
  • Identification of the microbial diversity enables a better understanding of the risk to crew health in a closed environment for infection and illness.
  • Identification of the microbial diversity allows the opportunity to better understand the risks to the fouling of clean air supplies, and contamination of fluids and food.
  • Investigating the microbial diversity on ISS permits the understanding of the similarities and differences between microbial communities on ISS and on Earth in nominal and extreme environments
  • Investigation of the microbial diversity on ISS helps to enable the identification of which microbes flourish in the space flight and microgravity environment, which is important from a crew health perspective based on the published findings that pathogenic bacteria may become more virulent in this environment
  • Investigation of the microbial diversity on ISS provides a study into how microbes adapt to the microgravity environment of space flight, which may provide insight in to individual and community adaptation to environmental changes.
 
The MT-2 project team allows researchers to describe the microbial communities of the ISS, but also to distinguish whether these biological signatures are of any concern to crew health and engineering systems. In particular, the MT-2 team will create a database that enables various genomic- and taxonomicphylogenetic- and pathogenic-based strategies of screening for, and identifying, specific subsets of microorganisms. The database will:
  1. Create a capability for NASA to compare fluctuating viral and microbial communities to “baseline” standards,
  2. Enable more accurate assessments of crew health associated with a given mission and future mission planning,
  3. Allow evidence-based development of future bioload management policies and requirements, particularly for long duration missions.

Earth Applications

The Microbial Tracking-2 team will generate a comprehensive set of vast amount of data utilizing a number of automated high- throughput molecular methods to provide the NASA Space Biology program with an opportunity to understand the total microbial communities of crew-associated environments. The high-throughput nature of molecular methods will not only allows researchers to describe the microbial communities of ISS, but also to distinguish whether these biological signatures are of any concern to crew health and engineering systems. Focused cultivation-based approaches are likely to reveal a subset of novel and medically important microbes posing particular threats to habitat and crew health. Archival of microbial and viral strains and their availability for extensive sequencing may feed into functional genomics activities. It is expected that a wide range of metadata will allow NASA researchers to correlate microbial community information with temporal or environmental conditions.
 
The development of an all-encompassing, integratedintegrated comprehensive Microbial Tracking-2 database will enable various phylogenetic- and pathogenicgenomic-based strategies of screening for, and identifying, specific subsets of microorganisms (e.g., dominating viral and microbial pathogens, as well as those that bear resistance traits relevant to human or antibiotics). This dataset will (a) create a capability for NASA to compare fluctuating viral and microbial communities to “baseline” standards, (b) enable more accurate assessments of crew health associated with a given mission and future mission planning, (c) allow evidence-based development of future bioload management policies and requirements, particularly for long duration missions, and (d) capitalize on parallel research from non-NASA institutions such as the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) and Indoor Microbiome Project (IMP) efforts. Such a dataset will be extremely very helpful in defining a baseline of what is normal and the extent to which change accompanies various disease states

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

The study requires 3 human subjects. The selected 3 subjects can be of any gender with no specific physical requirements. Additionally, they should stay at the ISS for at least 150 days, and are willing to participate in the study in its entirety.
 
Pre-flight Activities:
Baseline Data Collection (BDC) is required from each selected crew member prior to the start of their respective flight mission. In particular, two set of samples are collected from the crew at L-6 months and L-3 months. More specifically, it is requested that saliva is collected using a synthetic roll (from Salimetrics, Inc.). On each time point, 4 samples are collected every alternate day (1, 3, 5, and 7). Additionally, flight-certified swabs (from Hardy Diagnostics, Inc.) are used to collect samples from mouth, skin (five locations), and nasal cavity at the same time points. Sterile gloves to be used in order to minimize contamination while collecting body swabs.
 
In flight activities are carried out early (1-2 month), mid (2-4 month), and late (close the Landing R-10 days) during the respective crewmember mission. First human samples are collected from the crew as follow.
Samples from crew members are collected at the following sites:
  • Oral Cavity
    • Saliva (4 samples collected every alternate day for 7 days)
    • Mouth parts (one sample/time-point)
  • Skin (One sample from each body part/time-point)
    • Forehead
    • Armpit
    • Retroauricular crease of both ears
    • Antecubital fossa of both arms
    • Navel region for abdomen
  • Nasal cavity (one sample/time-point)
    • Anterior Nares (L&R pooled)
Environmental:
Additionally, environmental samples from the ISS surfaces and the air are collected during SpaceX Dragon vehicle berthing times in a similar fashion as Microbial Tracking-1. The collection of the samples can be performed independently of the human samples.
 
Environmental samples are collected from the following ISS locations (similar to MT-1):
  • Surface sampling locations
    • Node 1 (Unity) – Dining table and ZSR (zero-G stowage rack) surface
    • Node 2 (Harmony) – Crew quarters (CQ3) interior port wall
    • Node 3 (Tranquility)– Overhead hatch area of cupola, Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), and rack next to the waste and hygiene compartment (WHC)
    • Laboratory (Destiny) – Rack front near portable water dispenser (PWD)
    • Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) (Leonardo) – ZSR (zero-G stowage rack) surface
    • Alternate location: Inside the dragon or orbital capsule berth to the ISS
  • Air sampling locations
    • One sample in each module (N1, N2, Lab, PMM or alternate) except N3 with two air samples.
The air sampler to collect particles from the atmosphere will be the -Sartorius MD8, already onboard the ISS. The system is run for 15 minutes to collect 750 liters of air.
 
Post-Flight Activities:
Similarly to preflight activities and upon return, saliva, nasal, and skin (5 locations) samples are collected from the crew at R+0/1 day, R+1 month, and R+6 months respectively.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Microbial Tracking-2, NASA Ames Research Center

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Imagery