Biofilms in Microgravity
Biofilm growth has been observed in Soviet/Russian (Salyuts and Mir), American (Skylab), and International (ISS) Space Stations, sometimes jeopardizing key equipment like spacesuits, water recycling units, air filters, radiators, and navigation windows. Several pathogens pose a risk to the health of astronauts during space missions. For example, Staphylococcus aureus is an opportunistic pathogen prevalent on human skin, is prominent in healthcare-associated infections, and was found aboard several space missions. Like most infections, staph infections are treated with antibiotics. However, space-grown biofilms exhibit increased antibiotic resistance. Therefore, there is a need to understand S. aureus biofilm characteristics and their relationship to antibiotic resistance to help enable safe, long duration, human space missions.