ELABORATION.- Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Found strains of bacteria isolated on the International Space Station (ISS) that were resistant to multiple drugs, raising concerns about possible health implications in future missions.
According to the study published in the journal BMC Microbiology, five strains of Enterobacter bugandensis were identified in samples taken from a toilet and an ISS exercise platform in 2015. The genetic composition of the individual strains was detailed and compared to all public genomes available from Enterobacter collected on Earth.
The result revealed that the genomes of the ISS samples were genetically very similar to three terrestrial strains of E. bugandensis recently identified as causing infections in newborns and elderly patients with complications.
An analysis of the functional and antimicrobial resistance of the five bacterial strains demonstrated resistance to five of the most commonly used antibiotics, including penicillin, and two more of "intermediate resistance". This pathogen is commonly found in the human intestinal tract, wastewater and soil, and is linked to a wide range of nosocomial infections.
Dangerous or not?
Recently, it has been observed that the competition of bacteria to acquire foreign genetic material increases in microgravity and increases its resistance to metals and antibiotics, factors that may predispose the SLE strains to greater virulence in the future.
The researchers predicted, by computational analysis, a 79% probability of causing diseases to humans.
According to Kasthuri Venkateswaran, the primary author of the research, whether or not ISS organisms cause the disease and the amount of threat they pose, depends on a variety of factors (environmental, spatial, etc.).
"More studies are needed" in vivo "to discern the impact that IAS conditions can have on pathogenicity," he concluded.