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The Past, Present, and Future of NASA Research into Microbes in Space

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Space microbiology, or the study of microorganisms in space, has significant applications for both human spaceflight and Earth-based medicine. This thesis traces the evolution of the field of space microbiology since its creation in 1935. Beginning with simple studies to

Space microbiology, or the study of microorganisms in space, has significant applications for both human spaceflight and Earth-based medicine. This thesis traces the evolution of the field of space microbiology since its creation in 1935. Beginning with simple studies to determine if terrestrial life could survive spaceflight, the field of space microbiology has grown to encompass a substantial body of work that is now recognized as an essential component of NASA' research endeavors. Part one provides an overview of the early period of space microbiology, from high-altitude balloon and rocket studies to work conducted during the Apollo program. Part two summarizes the current state of the field, with a specific focus on the revolutionary contributions made by the Nickerson lab at the Biodesign Institute at ASU using the NASA-designed Rotating Wall Vessel (RWV) Bioreactor. Finally, part three highlights the research I've conducted in the Nickerson lab, as well as continuing studies within the field of space microbiology.

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2016-05

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Characterization of the physiological fluid shear response of the foodborne pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis

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Spaceflight and spaceflight analogue culture enhance the virulence and pathogenesis-related stress resistance of the foodborne pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium). This is an alarming finding as it suggests that astronauts may have an increased risk of infection during

Spaceflight and spaceflight analogue culture enhance the virulence and pathogenesis-related stress resistance of the foodborne pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium). This is an alarming finding as it suggests that astronauts may have an increased risk of infection during spaceflight. This risk is further exacerbated as multiple studies indicate that spaceflight negatively impacts aspects of the immune system. In order to ensure astronaut safety during long term missions, it is important to study the phenotypic effects of the microgravity environment on a range of medically important microbial pathogens that might be encountered by the crew. This ground-based study uses the NASA-engineered Rotating Wall Vessel (RWV) bioreactor as a spaceflight analogue culture system to grow bacteria under low fluid shear forces relative to those encountered in microgravity, and interestingly, in the intestinal tract during infection. The culture environment in the RWV is commonly referred to as low shear modeled microgravity (LSMMG). In this study, we characterized the stationary phase stress response of the enteric pathogen, Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis), to LSMMG culture. We showed that LSMMG enhanced the resistance of stationary phase cultures of S. Enteritidis to acid and thermal stressors, which differed from the LSSMG stationary phase response of the closely related pathovar, S. Typhimurium. Interestingly, LSMMG increased the ability of both S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium to adhere to, invade into, and survive within an in vitro 3-D intestinal co-culture model containing immune cells. Our results indicate that LSMMG regulates pathogenesis-related characteristics of S. Enteritidis in ways that may present an increased health risk to astronauts during spaceflight missions.

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2020-05