Outer space holds some massive dangers to humans, from black holes to the heat death of the universe. But when humanity considers long-distance space travel, there are other, smaller potential dangers that some researchers say might deserve more attention: microbes from Earth.
Astronauts face numerous familiar ones health problems in space, including a loss of bone density, muscle atrophy and psychological problems. And on Earth, researchers are increasingly discovering the impact of the various bacteria and other microorganisms that live inside and outside humans – the human microbiome physically and Mental health.
Space is of course a completely different environment than Earth, with high levels of radiation and microgravity. While the science is far from certain, these vast differences can lead to unexpected changes in astronauts’ microbiomes. This in turn could lead to a range of health problems that may be more pronounced during long-distance stays in space, such as traveling to another planet.
Still, the effects of a disrupted microbiome are poorly understood, even on Earth, said David Pearce, a bioscientist at Northumbria University and author of a Paper 2022 are investigating how a trip to Mars might affect microbes in the gut — making it difficult to predict the range of related illnesses and diseases in space. And direct research is only possible to a limited extent around 600 Humans have ever been in space. Those who have made the journey usually don’t stay long, as the average duration of a trip to the International Space Station is about six months. And some researchers aren’t yet convinced that there’s enough evidence that the human microbiome will change much in space at all.
Despite this, many researchers, including Pearce, are trying to figure out whether astronauts enter a condition in which their microbiome changes in an adverse way, known as dysbiosis. “Will this dysbiosis become a significant problem because of their long absence,” he said, “or result in them having health effects that impair their ability to function?”
Researchers are attempting to understand the possible effects of outer space on the microbiome in two places: in terrestrial environments that are somewhat similar to those in outer space, or in outer space itself. In an example of the former, Norberto González-Juarbe, a principal researcher at the Astronaut Microbiome Research Group at the J. Craig Venter Institute’s Infectious Diseases and Genomic Medicine Group, the microbiomes of researchers working at the Concordia and Neumayer Stations in Antarctica. He said these locations partially mimic what astronauts experience in space, particularly the darkness, confinement and limited human contact.
That’s what the team is planning analyze samples by researchers at those stations to see how the microbial makeup of their gastrointestinal tract changes and how their immune systems respond to the space station-like conditions. According to González-Juarbe, initial results show changes in gut microbes and the team is currently reviewing the immunological data. He expects to publish the results by the end of this year.
As for the studies conducted in space, there are quite a few. one Study 2019, for example, compared the microbiomes of astronaut Scott Kelly and his twin brother Mark after the former went to the ISS for almost a year starting in 2015. The study found that Scott Kelly’s microbiome actually changed in space. For him, a reduction in bacteria is also mentioned Bacteroideteswhose dysregulation has been connected to neurological, immune system and metabolic problems and an increase in Firmicutesa type of bacteria that may help break down specific strengths and fibers.
in the 2019, another study from the J. Craig Venter Institute studied nine astronauts who spent between 6 and 12 months on the ISS. The astronauts collected samples from different parts of their skin, nose and tongue. The astronauts also collected stool, blood, and saliva, as well as samples from various surfaces in the station and its water reservoir.
Back on Earth, the study authors extracted and sequenced the DNA from the samples to see how the astronauts’ microbiomes changed over time. The study found that different skin microbes, including types of Gammaproteobacteriadecreased in number, which the authors theorize might contribute common phenomenon of skin rashes and skin hypersensitivity in astronauts in space. The results also suggest that the astronaut’s gastrointestinal microbiome has changed and that two types of bacteria – Akkermansia and Ruminococcuswhich seem to play an important role in nursing slime integrity in the digestive tract and in to collapse Carbohydrates – saw a five-fold decrease.
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