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Spaceflight shown to alter ability of bacteria to cause disease
Date:9/24/2007

kerson. Our studies suggest that there may be a role for these regulatory RNAs in the cellular response to the physical and mechanical forces found in spaceflight, which are relevant to conditions that cells encounter here on Earth during the normal course of their lifecycles.

These results have important implications for human health since Salmonella (and other gut-related bacterial pathogens) are a leading cause of food-borne illness and infectious disease, especially in the developing world. Nickersons group further highlights Hfq as a potential therapeutic target, since no vaccine currently exists for Salmonella food-borne infections in humans. In addition, the space flight studies may shed new light on why Salmonella has become increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment.

We also studied the morphology of the bacteria in response to space flight, and the change that we observed is consistent with what looks like formation of a biofilm. The ground grown samples did not show biofilm formation. Biofilms are associated with increased pathogenicity because the immune system cant clear the bacteria effectively and antibiotics dont treat them effectively.

The group will embark on another space shuttle mission likely next year to further understand the risks and mechanisms of infectious disease agents during space flight and how microbes cause infections on Earth.


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Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
joseph.caspermeyer@asu.edu
480-727-0369
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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