General, Research, Technology

Microbes unknown to science have been found on the ISS. Are they dangerous?

Scientists from the USA and India studied the importedThe International Space Station bacteria and found that among them there is a completely new species for science .. The samples were taken from different parts of the space station, but they have a lot in common. For example, they all belong to a family of bacteria commonly found on Earth in soil and fresh water. The fact that organisms other than humans can survive outside of our planet is amazing. But now what interests most of all is the answer to the question - are these microbes dangerous for people? After all, someday astronauts will fly to Mars and other planets, so I would not want anything bad to happen to them due to bacteria. Researchers are confident that the discovered species cannot harm people. On the contrary, they are very useful and can help people survive in space. Let's see what features they have.

There are many bacteria on the ISS and scientists are gradually studying them.

Bacteria in space

The discovery of a new species of bacteria was toldin the scientific publication Science Alert. Three of the four strains were found in 2015 and 2016. The first samples were taken from the top of the ISS research station panel. The second strain was found in the so-called "dome" - this is the name of the station module with seven transparent windows through which one can observe the cosmos. The third strain is found right on the dining table surface. And samples of the fourth type of bacteria were found in an old HEPA air filter returned to Earth in 2011. It should be noted that such filters are used not only in the space station, but also in vacuum cleaners, air purification systems, and so on.

"Dome" of the International Space Station

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, all fourstrains refer to bacteria that normally live in earth's soil and fresh water. And let's immediately understand - they do not pose any danger to people. Scientists have long noticed that such microbes only contribute to plant growth. In particular, they are involved in nitrogen retention, which is very important for plant nutrition. This chemical element is an integral part of plant proteins, chlorophylls, DNA and other components. Also, scientists believe that the bacteria found fight against pathogenic plant microbes.

Nitrogen is one of the most important components for plant growth

See also: How do plants grow in a weightless state?

A new species of bacteria on the ISS

In one of the strains, scientists have already founda well-known bacterial species called Methylorubrum rhodesianum. But the other three samples turned out to be representatives of a completely new type of microbes. The new species of bacteria was named Methylobacterium ajmalii, after the Indian scientist Ajmal Khan. What interested researchers the most is that bacteria promote plant growth. And at the same time they are able to survive in space conditions. It turns out that they can be used to grow plants outside the Earth.

Methylobacterium jeotgali bacteria were also found on the ISS

At the moment, scientists intend to find in bacteriagenes that are most involved in plant growth. They have already discovered that one of the strains somehow enhances the effect of cytokinin. This is the name of a vegetable protein that accelerates cell division in roots and shoots. If researchers can somehow manage to use bacteria to get more yields from plants, this will be a major advance in the field of science.

Cytokinin for plant growth is even commercially available

According to the authors of the scientific work, at thisthe moment they just touched the whole variety of bacteria on the space station. It is reported that about 1000 samples have already been collected there and they are all awaiting shipment to Earth. And it is completely unknown what other new microorganisms will be discovered by scientists in the future. We can only hope that they will be safe and can be used for their own purposes.

If you want to discuss high technology news, join our Telegram chat. We will be glad to see you!

And the fact that on the space station were foundbacteria associated with plants is not surprising. Astronauts have been growing various crops outside the world for a long time and they are doing very well. In 2019, American researchers decided to grow pepper at the station in order to later eat it. How they do it and what astronauts have grown in space for the first time in history, you can read in this material.