About this Research Topic
Microorganisms play an important role in life on Earth and can adapt and survive in harsh and changing environments. Their aptitude to thrive under hostile conditions is reflected by their survival and activity in some of the most extreme environments on Earth and their presence and growth in low earth orbit and outer space. Spaceflight and the space environment have a unique set of stressors compared to Earth (microgravity, galactic cosmic radiation, solar UV radiation, space vacuum, thermal extremes) that microbes are exposed to, but how they adapt and respond is still poorly understood. Studies to date, though, have shown that these responses can range from being beneficial for human exploration to negatively impact long duration missions. Hence, investigating the reaction of microorganisms to space conditions, the alterations in their physiology and virulence, not only helps shed light on the molecular basis of tolerance, but has implications for both space exploration and astrobiological missions.
This Research Topic will solicit original research and reviews related to studies conducted in flight or in simulated flight environments to further our understanding of microbial responses to this unique extreme environment.
Topics of interest include, but not limited to:
• Effects of microgravity, radiation and other space conditions on microbial processes, such as biofilm formation, anti-microbial resistance, virulence, growth, and survival.
• Microbiology studies conducted on the International Space Station, lunar payloads, balloon flight experiments and analog environments.
• Omics studies on the astronaut microbiome during spaceflight or in analogous habitats.
• Omics studies on single organisms or microbial communities grown under simulated planetary conditions.
• The use of microbes for in situ resource utilization on the moon, mars and beyond.
• The use of probiotics to help achieve successful exploration missions, such as maintaining astronaut health, or enabling plant growth in space.
• Planetary protection research involving forward and backward contamination.
• Effects of space and outer space exposure on microbial extremophiles for the study of the limits of life.
Keywords: Spaceflight, outer space, microbial adaptation, International Space Station, analog habitats, simulated space environment
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.