With humans pushing to live further off Earth for longer periods of time, it is increasingly important to understand the changes that occur in biological systems during spaceflight whether these be astronauts, their microbial commensals, or their plant-based life support systems. In a three-part presentation, we discuss GeneLab and recent discoveries regarding the microbiota of spacecrafts and space-flown animals.
Part 1: GeneLab: Open Science for Life in Space, Jonathan Galazka, NASA Ames Research Center
Abstract: To accelerate the pace of discovery from precious spaceflight biological experiments, NASA as develop the GeneLab data system (genelab.nasa.gov), which allows unfettered access to omics data from spaceflight and spaceflight relevant experiments. GeneLab houses metagenomic datasets from spacecraft and relevant spacecraft models. Users can download this data and associated metadata to make new discoveries about how microbial communities may change and adapt to spaceflight.
Part 2: Reproducible changes in the gut microbiome suggest a shift in microbial and host metabolism during spaceflight, Peng Jiang, Northwestern University
Abstract: The gastrointestinal microbiota interacts with multiple aspects of mammalian physiological functions. Microbiome changes in response to the challenging space environmental factors, such as microgravity and radiation, are thus thought to be important for astronaut health during long-term missions. Spaceflight-associated changes in the gut microbiome include an elevated microbial diversity and an altered community structure, which appeared to be consistent across studies in both humans and mice. Ongoing-studies are aiming to understand microbiome-host interactions during spaceflight and the significance of such interactions impact mammalian functions such as metabolism, immune functions, and sleep.
Part 3: Novel technologies to identify Antimicrobial resistances in hospitals, urban environments and on the NASA International Space Station
Abstract: With the revolution of next-generation sequencing technologies the field of microbiome and metagenomics research continues to expand and transform several fields. The Extreme Microbiome Project (XMP) launched in 2014 characterizes the microbial communities of extreme sites on Earth. In 2015 we launched the International MetaSUB consortium with more than 200 members in 25 countries. We experimenting with new technologies to find better solutions to for the remote and rapid sequencing of infectious diseases in hospitals, on the International Space Station (ISS) and in NASA clean rooms to inform the spacecraft assembly engineers and biological scientists of any potential bacterial or human contamination. Furthermore, we have been testing a broad range of cutting-edge technologies in the NASA Twins study. To better understand the impact of spaceflight on the human body and to prepare for future exploration-class missions, a pair of identical twin astronauts was monitored before, during, and after a one-year mission resulting in one of the most comprehensive studies ever have been made on one individuum.