I haven’t been on one recently, but I am assuming that a space flight is a tough experience! Heck, the microbes – those with small robes.. naah… the small guys who only show up under a microscope – have it really tough out there!! So tough they become tougher…. and meaner!! They kill stuff faster and become worse in small quantities! Scientists found Salmonella did kill more mice than their earth resident counterpart for the duration of the journey!
So, caveat – if you do go up to space – don’t sit next to a salmonella. He may not be the best of friends… 😉
The researchers placed identical strains of salmonella in containers and sent one into space aboard the shuttle, while the second was kept on Earth, under similar temperature conditions to the one in space.
After the shuttle returned, mice were given varying oral doses of the salmonella and then were watched.
After 25 days, 40 percent of the mice given the earthbound salmonella were still alive, compared with just 10 percent of those dosed with the germs from space. And the researchers found the amount of bacteria it took to kill half the mice was three times larger for the normal salmonella than for the space germs.
The researchers found 167 genes had changed in the salmonella that went to space.
"That’s the 64 million dollar question," Nickerson said. "We do not know with 100 percent certainty what the mechanism is of space flight that’s inducing these changes."
However, they think it’s a force called fluid shear.
"Being cultured in microgravity means the force of the liquid passing over the cells is low." The cells "are responding not to microgravity, but indirectly to microgravity in the low fluid shear effects."
"There are areas in the body which are low shear, such as the gastrointestinal tract, where, obviously, salmonella finds itself," she went on. "So, it’s clear this is an environment not just relevant to space flight, but to conditions here on Earth, including in the infected host."