BioServe Space Technologies, a
Klaus said the investigation will examine changes in the gene expression of the bacteria E. coli during exposure to different concentrations of antibiotics while in the microgravity environment of space. The hope is to locate particular genes that are key to resisting antibiotics, which could lead to improved testing on Earth as well as new drug targets or new approaches to understanding antibiotic resistance in certain diseases or infections, said Klaus.
"Previous studies carried out in microgravity have shown that bacteria are able to grow in what normally would be an inhibitory concentration of the antibiotic," said Klaus. "This investigation is aimed at characterizing the genetic basis for this response in the weightless environment of space with the intent of applying any insight gained toward combatting the increasing emergence of drug-resistant pathogens here on Earth."
Co-investigators on the project include BioServe Director
Bacterial resistance to antibiotics kills 100,000 Americans every year and represents a roughly
The second experiment launching to ISS is known as Ants in Space, which examines foraging patterns based on the density of the common Pavement Ant, said BioServe Business Development Manager and Education Program Director
"Ants assess their own density at the rate at which they meet," said Countryman, who said the eight individual ant habitats on ISS will be loaded with roughly 100 ants each. "The experiment examines whether in microgravity ants will use the rate at which they meet to assess density, and so use straighter paths in the larger habitat areas. The results will be compared to ground controls, which in this case will include ant habitats in hundreds of K-12 classrooms around the world."
Countryman has previously directed BioServe K-12 education experiments involving the behavior of butterflies, ladybugs and spiders in space, reaching hundreds of thousands of students around the world in the past two decades. For the ant experiments BioServe is partnering with the Baylor College of
BioServe research partners on the ant project include Gordon of
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