It is known that smaller the genome of organisms, higher the rate of mutations in its genome. And we know that bacteria have far more simple and small genome as compared to us humans, which is why, the bacteria present in the International Space Station (ISS) are modifying themselves according to the surrounding environment, which has worried certain researchers.
However, the turns out, that the mutations among bacteria in space are not responsible for changing them into super bugs but they’re responsible for making them survive and adapt to the surrounding conditions. This was concluded during the findings from a genomic analysis of bacteria present on the ISS, which was considered to be a harmful evolution in space. During this test, a total of five strains were found to develop drug resistance which evoked a sense of worry in the scientists that these strains were mutating into some sort of bugs. However, the detailed study indicates that the bacteria are mutating to survive and hence it can be a good news for many space missions – because it supports the idea of life sustenance on space.
In fact, these strains could even be used in any future missions to Mars as they will be more resistant and competent to survive in the respective environment than the normal strains. Since we don’t know much about these tiny entities of nature, bacteria possess different strains within a same species. A strain is another group of organisms genetically related to the other members of same species, but have a slight difference in their genomic constitution. This difference might be responsible for a drug resistance, antibiotic production or any such function, but the development of a strain is also based on the nutrients and conditions of the medium it grows in.
Hence, if the same species is inoculated into a medium having different conditions, a new strain will be developed The researchers from the northwestern university are trying to study the same in the bacteria of ISS. Till now, there has been much research on how microbes behave in closed and extreme environments like that of space.