New species of bacteria discovered on the space station – they may have “biotechnologically useful genetic determinants” for growing crops

Three new bacterial strains discovered on the International Space Station could aid the growth of plants on Mars

In order to withstand the rigors of space in deep space missions, extraterrestrial food needs a little extra help from bacteria. Now, a recent discovery aboard the International Space Station (ISS) could help researchers create “fuels” to help plants withstand such stressful situations.

Publish their findings on Frontiers in MicrobiologyAnd the researchers who work with them NASA Description of the discovery and isolation of 4 strains of bacteria belonging to the Methylobacteriaceae family from different locations aboard the International Space Station over two consecutive flights.

While one strain was identified as being Methyluroprom rhodesianumThe other three were previously undiscovered and belong to a new species. The motile rod-shaped bacteria were given the designations IF7SW-B2T, IIF1SW-B5, and IIF4SW-B5 with genetic analysis showing that they are closely related to Methylobacterium indicum.

The methylobacterium species are involved in nitrogen fixation, phosphate dissolution, tolerance of abiotic stress, promotion of plant growth, and biocontrol activity against plant pathogens.

The possibility of Mars missions

Now, in honor of the renowned Indian biodiversity scientist Dr. Ajmal Khan, the team has proposed naming the new species Methylobacterium total.

Commenting on the discovery, Dr. Kasturi Venkateswaran (Venkat) and Dr. Nitin Kumar Singh of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), He says strains may possess “biotechnologically useful genetic determinants” for growing crops in space.

However, more experimental biology is needed to prove that it is indeed a potential game-changer in alien farming.

“To grow plants in extreme locations where resources are scarce,” they said, “isolating new microbes that help promote plant growth under stressful conditions is essential.”

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Besides the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, other researchers are collaborating on this discovery at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Cornell University and University of Hyderabad in India.

With NASA someday looking to take humans to a surface Mars – And perhaps further – the US National Research Council Decodal Survey recommends that the space agency use the International Space Station as a “test base for scanning microorganisms,” according to Venkat and Singh.

“Because our group has experience cultivating microorganisms from extreme outlets, we have been tasked by NASA’s Space Biology Program to scan the International Space Station for the presence and persistence of microorganisms,” they add.

“ Needless to say, the International Space Station is a harsh environment that is cleanly maintained. Crew safety is priority # 1, so understanding human / plant pathogens is important, but beneficial microbes like this one. Methylobacterium total There is also a need. “

Expansion of the ISS laboratory

As part of the continuous monitoring mission, 8 sites on the International Space Station are being monitored for bacterial growth and have been over the past six years. These sample areas include where staff will be assembled or where to conduct experiments, such as a plant growth room.

While hundreds of bacterial samples from the International Space Station have been analyzed so far, nearly 1,000 samples have been collected from various other locations on the space station but are awaiting the return flight to Earth where they can be examined.

According to Venkat and Singh, the ultimate goal is to bypass this lengthy process and find potential new strains using molecular biology equipment developed and demonstrated for the International Space Station.

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“Instead of returning samples to Earth for analysis, we need an integrated microbial monitoring system that collects, processes and analyzes samples in space using molecular techniques,” said Venkat and Singh.

“This ‘omics in space’ miniature technology – the development of a biosensor – will help NASA and other spacefaring nations achieve safe and sustainable space exploration for long periods of time.”

Reference:Methylobacterium total s. November, cut off from the International Space Station “by Swati Pilani, Nitin K. Singh, in Phi Ramprasad Idara, Aba Rao Bodil, Christopher E. Mason, Clay CC Wang and Kasturi Venkateswaran, 15 March 2021, Frontiers in Microbiology.
DOI: 10.3389 / fmicb.2021.639396

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