Previously Unknown Bacteria Strains Discovered On ISS Could Help Grow Space Crops 

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Mar 19, 2021 - 05:45 AM

A recent discovery of three new strains of bacteria by researchers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) could fuel future development of growing crops in space or on other planets, according to a study published on Monday.

"Four strains belonging to the family of Methylobacteriaceae were isolated from different locations on the International Space Station (ISS) across two consecutive flights," the findings read, published in the journal frontiers in Microbiology

Titled "Methylobacterium ajmalii sp. nov., Isolated From the International Space Station," researchers in the US and India working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory discovered four bacteria strains living in various places on the ISS, three of them were unknown. 

"While 1 strain was identified as Methylorubrum rhodesianum, the other 3 were previously undiscovered and belong to a novel species novel. The rod-shaped, motile bacteria were given the designations IF7SW-B2T, IIF1SW-B5, and IIF4SW-B5 with genetic analysis showing them to be closely related to Methylobacterium indicium," Kasthuri Venkateswaran and Nitin Kumar Singh, two of the paper's authors from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained a press release.

"To grow plants in extreme places where resources are minimal, isolation of novel microbes that help to promote plant growth under stressful conditions is essential," the two said.

The discovery of new bacteria to support growing crops in space could lead to breakthroughs in sustainable space farming. 

President Biden will continue the Artemis program to land humans on the moon by the end of his first term. The US has various plans for the moon, such as mining the lunar surface and setting up a base station, which involves astronauts and sustainable living accommodations.