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Bacteria starved in space grow better

Bacteria that flew aboard the STS-135 mission, shown landing, grew better under certain conditions than similar microbes grown on Earth.

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Bacteria aboard the final mission of space shuttle Atlantis have given scientists a better understanding of the effects of microgravity on potentially dangerous microbes.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria were grown during the 12-day mission in 2011 and compared with bacterial colonies of the same species grown on Earth. Both the space-flown and Earth-based bacteria experienced an environment low in phosphate and oxygen. In the end, the bacteria experiencing the conditions under micogravity divided more often than the bacteria on Earth. When either phosphate or oxygen was increased, the bacterial colonies had about the same final cell count.

The results, which appear November 5 in BMC Microbiology, may help scientists and engineers combat the negative effects of bacterial growth in future space missions.

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