Home Education IIT-Madras and NASA Researchers Investigate Multidrug-Resistant Pathogens on the International Space Station

IIT-Madras and NASA Researchers Investigate Multidrug-Resistant Pathogens on the International Space Station


Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are investigating multidrug-resistant pathogens on the International Space Station (ISS), aiming to enhance astronauts’ health and offer applications on Earth.

The study focuses on understanding the genomic, functional, and metabolic changes in multidrug-resistant pathogens, particularly Enterobacter bugandensis, a common nosocomial pathogen found on ISS surfaces, IIT Madras said in a statement.

Astronauts, who operate under altered immune conditions with limited medical resources, face unique health challenges. Thus, understanding the microbial environment aboard the ISS is crucial for evaluating these microorganisms’ impact on astronaut well-being.

The research highlights the importance of studying the pathogenic potential of microorganisms in space to protect astronaut health and reduce risks from opportunistic pathogens.

The findings have potential applications in controlled environments on Earth, such as hospital intensive care units and surgical theaters, where multidrug-resistant pathogens pose significant challenges.

The research team identified genomic features and potential antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in E. bugandensis strains isolated from various ISS locations.

The study revealed how key genes evolved and responded to space environment stressors. Using advanced systems biology approaches, the researchers discovered complex interactions between E. bugandensis and other microorganisms aboard the ISS, including parasitic and symbiotic relationships influencing microbial growth dynamics.

By tracking the prevalence and distribution of E. bugandensis over time, the study offers insights into its persistence, succession, and colonization patterns in space.

Key real-world applications of the research include understanding the genomic adaptations of multidrug-resistant E. bugandensis, aiding in developing targeted antimicrobial treatments.

Additionally, the research provides insights into the persistence and succession patterns of E. bugandensis in space, informing strategies for managing microbial contamination in closed environments like spacecraft and hospitals.