Don’t go into area; it’ll wreak havoc in your intestine. At the very least, that’s one attainable takeaway from a bit of analysis popping out of Northwestern College, the place investigators have been exploring the influence of spaceflight on the intestine microbiome, the communities of microorganisms discovered within the gastrointestinal tract.
“We analyzed mouse fecal samples obtained from NASA’s Biospecimen Sharing Program,” Martha Vitaterna, analysis professor in Northwestern’s Division of Neurobiology, instructed Digital Traits. “These have been from the Rodent Analysis 1 (RR-1) mission, flown in 2014. DNA was extracted from the samples, and bacterial genes have been sequenced from the DNA with a purpose to establish what bacterial species have been current and their relative abundances.”
With a view to examine the spaceflight-associated modifications with modifications current in different information units, the staff needed to develop a brand new evaluation software, known as STARMAPs (Similarity Check for Accordant and Reproducible Microbiome Abundance Patterns). This helped them achieve a number of insights into the influence of area journey, akin to the truth that mice flown on the Worldwide Area Station and area shuttle wind up with totally different intestine circumstances from “management mice” on the bottom — regardless of having matched habitats, temperature, and fuel composition. These microbiome modifications should not much like modifications induced by exposing mice to space-type radiation.
So ought to we actually keep away from the celebs for worry of negatively impacting our gastrointestinal tract? “I’d say that we nonetheless have no idea how a lot of a danger microbiome disruption poses for area journey,” Vitaterna continued. “There are too many unknowns. We solely have information from low Earth orbit, so there may be not the identical radiation publicity danger, for instance. We additionally solely have information from one inbred pressure of mice, so we don’t know to what extent genetically totally different people could reply in a different way. If the spaceflight impact we have now seen is because of microgravity, we have now to think about whether or not extra modifications could seem with longer period missions and with partial gravity, [such as] lunar or Martian gravity.”
It’s additionally not clear whether or not the modifications have a notable influence on the host’s physiology and well being. Nonetheless, between this and analysis exhibiting that area journey modifications the bodily construction of astronauts’ eyes, evidently life past Earth is probably not one for the squeamish.
A paper describing the analysis was just lately printed within the journal Microbiome.