Longitudinal characterization of multispecies microbial populations recovered from spaceflight potable water

Jiseon Yang, Jennifer Barrila, C. Mark Ott, Olivia King, Rebekah Bruce, Robert J.C. McLean, Cheryl A. Nickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


While sequencing technologies have revolutionized our knowledge of microbial diversity, little is known about the dynamic emergent phenotypes that arise within the context of mixed-species populations, which are not fully predicted using sequencing technologies alone. The International Space Station (ISS) is an isolated, closed human habitat that can be harnessed for cross-sectional and longitudinal functional microbiome studies. Using NASA-archived microbial isolates collected from the ISS potable water system over several years, we profiled five phenotypes: antibiotic resistance, metabolism, hemolysis, and biofilm structure/composition of individual or multispecies communities, which represent characteristics that could negatively impact astronaut health and life-support systems. Data revealed a temporal dependence on interactive behaviors, suggesting possible microbial adaptation over time within the ecosystem. This study represents one of the most extensive phenotypic characterization of ISS potable water microbiota with implications for microbial risk assessments of water systems in built environments in space and on Earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number70
Journalnpj Biofilms and Microbiomes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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