1994-06-01

Investigation of Space Flight Effects on Escherichia coli Growth 941260

It is hypothesized that the weightless environment experienced during space flight has a stimulating effect on the growth rate of microorganisms. This theory was tested with the bacterium Escherichia coli using protocols and supporting hardware evolved over five space shuttle missions between April, 1991 and July, 1993. In comparing 38 bacterial growth experiments across multiple flights, the overall average population density of E. coli achieved in space was 88% greater than that of matched ground controls (N=19 flight, 19 ground, p < 0.05). Depending on test variables, growth increases in space of up to 257% over ground controls were observed. Analysis of bacterial proteins by gel electrophoresis indicated an apparent difference in expressed protein between flight and ground control E. coli samples in the range of 20-30 kD.

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