Drug-resistant bacteria found on ISS

Drug-resistant bacteria found on ISS

Bacteria ISS

NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are facing a new challenge after scientists discovered a drug-resistant superbug that has evolved in the unique environment of space. The bacterium, identified as Enterobacter bugandensis, was found in various locations within the ISS over a two-year period. The study, conducted by researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M), revealed that the ISS strains of E.

bugandensis have developed resistance to multiple antibiotics.

The extreme conditions on the ISS, including microgravity, radiation, and elevated carbon dioxide levels, are believed to have driven these genetic adaptations. Dr.

Kasthuri Venkateswaran, the lead researcher from JPL, emphasized the importance of understanding the microbial ecosystem aboard the ISS. “Our research uncovers how certain benign microorganisms help to adapt and survive opportunistic human pathogens, such as E.

Drug-resistant superbug adapts in space

bugandensis, in the unfavorable conditions of the ISS,” he said. The discovery of these evolved superbugs poses potential health risks for astronauts, especially those with compromised immune systems. Enterobacter bacteria can cause various infections, including respiratory and urinary tract infections.

The findings highlight the need for robust safety protocols and preventive measures to protect astronauts’ health during space missions. Professor Karthik Raman from IIT-M noted, “Microbes continue to puzzle us by growing in the most challenging conditions.”

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The research also has implications for infection control in medical settings on Earth, such as hospital ICUs and surgical theaters. By mapping the prevalence and distribution of the bacterium on the ISS, scientists hope to develop better strategies to mitigate pathogenic risks.

As space agencies prepare for future long-duration missions, understanding and addressing the challenges posed by microbial adaptation in space becomes increasingly crucial. The study underscores the importance of continuous monitoring and the development of countermeasures to ensure the safety and well-being of astronauts in the unique environment of space.


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