Three previously-unknown microbes discovered aboard ISS

Cheryl Santa Maria
·1 min read
Three previously-unknown microbes discovered aboard ISS
 Three previously-unknown microbes discovered aboard ISS
Three previously-unknown microbes discovered aboard ISS

Three strains of bacteria previously unknown to science have been discovered aboard the International Space Station (ISS), according to a new paper appearing in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

The team, comprised of researchers from the U.S. and India in partnership with NASA, isolated four strains of bacteria belonging to the family Methylobacteriaceae from different locations on the ISS.

Methylobacterium species have numerous functions, the study authors say, including "nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilization, abiotic stress tolerance, plant growth promotion and biocontrol activity against plant pathogens."

Three of the strains were previously unknown and have been given the designations IF7SW-B2T, IIF1SW-B5, and IIF4SW-B5. The team has proposed calling the new novel species Methylobacterium ajmalii, in honour of Indian biodiversity scientist Dr. Ajmal Khan.

Dr. Nitin Kumar Singh of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) says the strains may contain "biotechnologically useful genetic determinants" for growing crops in space, an issue that is becoming increasingly important as we look to send human explorers to Mars.

Learning to grow food in a harsh environment like space can also have implications for life on Earth, as it could help farmers offset the negative effects of climate change. Expanding our agricultural knowledge can also help reduce food security.

Wikipedia - ISS
Wikipedia - ISS

Scientists have been monitoring ba

And, like many technologies developed by NASA, the ideas may have implications for life on Earth, by teaching us about growing crops in harsh environments and reducing food insecurity.

For the past six years, eight locations on the ISS have been monitored for bacterial growth, with hundreds of samples analyzed to date.

The team will now focus its attention on analyzing the new strains to see what insight they may be able to provide.