What’s going to future astronauts residing on Mars or touring in deep house eat? Researchers have found three new strains of micro organism on the Worldwide Area Station that they suppose might sooner or later assist astronauts to grow their own food.
Whereas house meals has advanced from the puree packets of NASA’s early years, it’s going to doubtless must advance additional; future astronauts on Mars missions and different lengthy treks by deep house will most likely must grow some of their own food, consultants have mentioned. However rising meals in house is not any simple feat, as crops rely upon “useful” micro organism in soil that would not exist off-Earth (so far as we all know).
In a brand new examine, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL),the College of Southern California, Cornell College and the College of Hyderabad in India found and remoted strains of micro organism aboard the Worldwide Area Station. The scientists suppose it is doable that these micro organism might assist crops develop in excessive environments like house.
“To develop crops in excessive locations the place sources are minimal, isolation of novel microbes that assist to advertise plant development underneath worrying situations is important,” Kasthuri Venkateswaran (Venkat), a senior analysis scientist at JPL, and Nitin Kumar Singh, a microbiologist and postdoctoral fellow at JPL, said in a statement.
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The house station is a fairly clear place.It needs to be, for the security of the astronauts on board and to guard ongoing experiments and expertise on the orbiting lab. However it’s not a sterile surroundings, and people are microbe havens, with the typical individual carrying over 100 trillion microscopic organisms in and on their physique. So it is no shock that micro organism stay on the station.
The bacterial strains discovered as a part of this examine all belong to the household Methylobacteriaceae, they usually have been noticed all around the house station throughout two consecutive flights. The workforce discovered 4 complete strains, three of which have been beforehand undiscovered. (The beforehand found pressure belongs to the genus Methylorubrum.)
The three new micro organism have been designated IF7SW-B2T, IIF1SW-B5 and IIF4SW-B5.Nonetheless, the workforce is proposing to call the crop of novel species Methylobacterium ajmalii, after the famend Indian biodiversity scientist Ajma Khan. Genetic evaluation accomplished by the workforce exhibits that they are intently associated to Methylobacterium indicum, which was remoted from rice seeds in previous, unrelated work.
Methylobacterium species are sometimes concerned in essential plant processes like nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilization and abiotic stress tolerance. They’re additionally identified to advertise plant development and assist defend in opposition to plant illnesses, in response to the assertion.
Due to their ties to plant well being and development, the workforce thinks that these bacterial strains might have “biotechnologically helpful genetic determinants” that may very well be useful in rising crops in house.
Nonetheless, whereas it’s fascinating to think about using micro organism like this for future house farming, additional experimentation is critical to show that they are going to be efficient, in response to the assertion. For this reason the U.S. Nationwide Analysis Council Decadal Survey recommends that NASA use the house station as a “test-bed for surveying microorganisms,” in response to the researchers.
“Since our group possess[es] experience in cultivating microorganisms from excessive niches, we now have been tasked by the NASA Area Biology Program to survey the ISS for the presence and persistence of the microorganisms,” the researchers mentioned.
“Evidently, the ISS is a cleanly maintained excessive surroundings. Crew security is the number one precedence and therefore understanding human/plant pathogens are essential, however helpful microbes like this novel Methylobacterium ajmalii are additionally wanted,” they added.
This work was printed March 15 within the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.
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