May 13, 2024 at 12:37 pm

A Mutant Bacteria Was Discovered Aboard The International Space Station

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

Listen, I don’t plan on traveling to space anytime soon. Or ever.

Still, when I hear the phrase “mutant bacteria,” my ears perk up.

I’ve seen all the zombie movies.

This time, the strange bacteria showed up on the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA recently put out a press release that stated the scientists at Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) found a sample of the drug-resistant Enterobacter bugandensis bacteria on the ISS.

Source: NASA

Except it had mutated into a strain that doesn’t exist here on Earth.

“Study findings indicate that under stress, the ISS isolated strains were mutated and became genetically and functionally distinct compared to their Earth counterparts. The strains were able to viably persist in the ISS over time in significant abundances.”

They also claim the bacteria coexists with multiple other organisms and, in some cases, “helped those organisms survive.”

Researchers at JPL isolated 13 distinct strains of the GI bacteria, which was discovered to be associated with severe illnesses in 2018.

NASA has had its astronauts literally scraping the outer walls of the ISS to see what’s growing there, and they’ve found all kinds of viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

“Closed human-built environments, such as the ISS, are unique areas that provide an extreme environment subject to microgravity, radiation, and elevated carbon dioxide levels. Any microorganisms introduced to these areas must adapt to thrive.”

Source: NASA

The E. bugandensis they scraped seemed to become more drug-resistant along the way. It was placed within the “ESKAPE pathogen group,” which means it has “formidable resistance to antimicrobial treatments.”

This study will join others that will attempt to keep astronauts healthy while in space for extended periods of time.

Let’s hope they can keep this one contained, now that they’ve brought it down here.

If you thought that was interesting, you might like to read about why we should be worried about the leak in the bottom of the ocean.