Sunita Williams and her crew arrived at the ISS on June 6 aboard the new Boeing Starliner spacecraft.

New Delhi:

NASA’s Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams and eight other crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS), including those currently in orbit. A superbug lurks in the space of the International Space Station within the city.

Scientists have found a multi-drug resistant bacteria called ‘Enterobacter Bugandensis’ (ET) that has evolved and become more potent in the closed environment of the ISS. Because it is multi-drug resistant, it is often referred to as a ‘superbug’. This bacteria infects the respiratory system.

Spacebugs are not extraterrestrial life or ETs, but insects that travel in disguise as stealthy fellow passengers on their way to work on the ISS.

Ms Williams and her fellow astronaut Barry Eugene “Butch” Wilmore arrived at the ISS on June 6, 2024 aboard the new Boeing Starliner spacecraft, and are expected to spend a week in the low-Earth orbiting laboratory. will spend more time than the new spacecraft he helped design.

Seven other crew members have been living on the ISS for a long time. Normally, the ISS is plagued by flying space debris and micrometeorites, but the bugs carried along as companions and now developed over the 24 years of continuous habitation on the space station, are a major problem. There is a new problem.

Writing about the superbug recently, NASA said that a strain of the bacterial species Enterobacter bugandensis isolated from the International Space Station (ISS) was studied. Thirteen strains of E. bugandensis, a bacterium notorious for multidrug resistance, were isolated from the ISS.

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The results of the study showed that under stress, the strains isolated from the ISS were transformed and genetically and functionally diverged compared to their terrestrial counterparts.

These strains were able to persist viable in the ISS over time with appreciable abundance. Enterobacter bugandensis coexisted with several other microorganisms, and in some cases could help these organisms survive.

The work was led by Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA.

Incidentally, he studied marine microbiology at Annamalai University in Chennai before joining NASA. In 2023, he discovered a new multidrug-resistant bug called Kalamiella Piersonii, which he named after his role model, former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

Further research on Enterobacter bugandensis was conducted jointly by JPL and Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, Chennai by a team including Professor Karthik Raman, Data Science and AI, Vidhvani School of Data Science and AI (WSAI). Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Sr. was included. JPL, NASA Research Scientist, Mr. Pratiya Sengupta, Mr. Shobhan Karthik MS, Research Scholars, IIT Madras and Mr. Nitin Kumar Singh from JPL, NASA and published in the scientific journal Microbiome.

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The researchers pointed out that astronauts face unique health challenges during space missions operating in immunocompromised conditions with limited access to conventional medical facilities. Understanding the microbial landscape aboard the ISS is paramount to assessing the impact of these microorganisms on the well-being of astronauts.

Emphasizing the broader implications of the research, JPL, NASA Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran said, “Our research shows how some benign microorganisms under unfavorable conditions of the international opportunistic human pathogen E .bugandensis to adapt and survive. The knowledge gained from this study will shed light on microbial behavior, adaptation, and evolution in extreme, isolated environments that may lead to new countermeasures to eliminate opportunistic pathogens. allows the design, thereby protecting the health of astronauts.”

NASA states that ‘man-made closed environments, such as the ISS, are unique regions that provide extreme environments subject to microgravity, radiation, and high levels of carbon dioxide. Any microorganism introduced into these areas must adapt to thrive. By studying microbial dynamics in extreme environments, this research opens the door to effective preventative measures for astronaut health.’

“Microbes continue to trouble us by growing in extremely difficult conditions,” said Professor Karthik Raman.

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