According to Frontiers in Microbiology, a group of researchers from Denmark, Germany, the United States and Brazil managed to grow a colony of bacteria at the International Space Station, which proved to be not only more adapted to life than on Earth, but also received some other special properties.
During the experiment, scientists simultaneously on Earth and on the ISS began to grow E. coli (Escherichia coli). Colonies of bacteria regularly "fed" the same dose of antibiotic (sulfate gentamycin). It turned out that the amount of antibiotic, which on Earth was enough to destroy the entire colony of bacteria, on the orbit on the intestinal wand almost did not work. When the experts tried to figure out what the matter was, it was possible to learn that the size of E. coli cells in bacteria with the ISS was on average 73% less than that of terrestrial counterparts. The number of rods in the same volume was 13 times higher in space than on Earth.
But the most interesting discovery was waiting for scientists ahead: the "cosmic" intestinal sticks formed a biofilm-like cluster in which bacteria exchanged bubbles with signal molecules. According to experts, thus, the bacteria on the periphery of the colony "sacrificed themselves" in order to save the others from the harmful effects of the drug. This behavior explains the increased resistance of bacteria with the ISS to the action of sulfate gentamycin. An explanation was also found for the extremely small size of bacteria: in conditions of reduced gravity, the spread of molecules is hampered. Thus, in order for nutrients to feed the cell, its volume decreases.
Researchers note that in conditions of reduced gravity, despite the increase in survival rate, the rate of reproduction of bacteria is significantly reduced. In addition, as scientists say, the study of bacteria in space conditions will help to reveal new features of their biochemistry.