Space exploration has allowed humans to travel from Earth to space, but humans may not be the only organisms to travel by spacecraft. Microbiologists studying extreme environments are looking for microorganisms present on the surfaces of spacecraft that could potentially contaminate pristine space environments. Now a new strain of the fungus has been discovered at a spacecraft assembly plant and named after Berkeley’s longtime microbiology lab. Tamas Torak.
If a new plant or animal species open, they are often named after famous scientists or even famous public figures. This also happens when a new microorganism is detected – in this case P. torokii, a new species of fungus of the genus Parengyodontium. Thorak, a scientist from Berkeley’s lab in the Department of Climate and Ecosystem Sciences, has decades of experience studying microbes in extreme conditions with a focus on the diversity and richness of microorganisms in low biomass. spaceship assembly rooms, which are areas that control microbes when preparing materials for space.
“It’s a great honor,” Torak said. “Especially because I started my entire scientific career with fungal organisms. For the first 18 years I worked with mushrooms. “
The new strain of fungi shows the ability to produce biofilm, which means it can attach to surfaces and withstand cleaning protocols on the assembly of spacecraft where it was found. The ability of the strain to survive in this low-nutrient environment is a concern because these clean rooms must meet the requirements of NASA’s robotic missions. Monitoring the bioload of spacecraft – microbes present on spacecraft or in assembly rooms – is important so that scientists do not falsely claim extraterrestrial life was detected when the infected spacecraft returned microbes to the ground. Scientists are seeking to develop additional research and new purification protocols to detect and limit the potential of the fungal strain for contamination in the assembly of spacecraft.
Ceth W. Parker et al., Genomic characteristics of Parengyodontium torokii sp. November, the fungus that forms the biofilm isolated from the assembly plant Mars 2020, Journal of Mushrooms (2022). DOI: 10.3390 / jof8010066
Citation: A microorganism found in the spacecraft assembly facility named after the Berkeley Laboratory Microbiology (2022, February 15), obtained on February 15, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-microorganism-spacecraft-facility-berkeley -lab.html
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