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The medium is the message: Manipulating salmonella in spaceflight curtails infectiousness
Date:12/12/2008

ng and related illnesses.

In both spaceflights, bacteria cultured in a nutrient-rich medium known as Lennox Broth (LB) consistently displayed a heightened virulence and exhibited differential expression of 167 distinct genes. These results were largely consistent with previous earthbound experiments in the laboratory, in which microgravitational conditions were simulated using a rotating wall vessel bioreactora device designed by NASA engineers to replicate elements of spaceflight.

Nickerson was able to examine the activity of genes in fine-grained detail through a technique known as microarray analysis, which allowed for a complete profile of gene expression across the entire 4.8 million DNA base pairs that make up the circular Salmonella chromosome. The 167 changes in gene levels produce a tremendous diversity of protein products, pointing to a global transformation in response to microgravity.

Interestingly, many of the 167 differentially expressed genes observed in the space-traveling microbes coded for an assortment of ionic response pathways. To Nickerson, these compelling results now suggested a possible means of limiting or eliminating the enhanced virulence imparted by spaceflight, through manipulation of the ionic content of the bacterium's surrounding environment.

In both the STS-115 and STS-123 missions, Nickerson compared the spaceflight response of Salmonella grown in Lennox Broth to the same bacteria grown in a minimal mediumone requiring the cells to synthesize most of their metabolic needs from scratch. This alternate growth medium, dubbed M9, contained high concentrations of five critical ions. The effects of this medium were dramatic, with the M9 cultures exhibiting a decrease in virulence in response to microgravity, despite exhibiting altered expression of many of the same genes and gene families that were observed in the LB cultures, where virulence under microgravity was intensified.

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

Page: 1 2 3 4 5

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