back to article Space makes germs more deadly

Salmonella likes it in orbit, and not just for the view. According to research conducted on the International Space Station (ISS), the effects of microgravity trip a switch in the bacterium that makes it much more virulent. The findings, which are to be published in PNAS Online Early Edition suggest astronauts could be at …


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  1. Matt


    They're lab mice. Their sole reason to be is in the hope that the experiments conducted on them will help one day to cure sickness, preserve life, lead to better treatments, etc etc, of human beings.

    Fuck the mice. There of course is a better alternative, that we test these things on retarded animal rights hippies instead. I quite like that idea.

    As to the science - interesting. But we sci-fi types have always known that bugs get more nasty in space. Mmmmmhmmm

  2. Gabor Laszlo


    So how come the thousands of different bacteria normally colonizing humans were not affected/studied until now? One would think that astronauts would notice if their acne turned virulent up there or their bowels became umm, disturbed. Don't tell me they are completely disinfected before a flight, nothing short of incinerating a person could do that.

  3. Karl Lattimer


    "Fuck the mice. There of course is a better alternative, that we test these things on retarded animal rights hippies instead. I quite like that idea."

    I second that.

    Especially retarded animal rights hippies who are so involved in preservation of the life of gerbils that they are willing to dig up corpses.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Generic Title

    Of course microgravity is dangerous, think about the energy you use to get up.. now think how much easier is it in space? hardly any energy at all.. protein bonding and chemistry in general is affected by gravity too.. as much of it is positional.

    If you give a bacteria a growth medium it will adapt to that medium faster in space using energy to reproduce rather than to arrange position. Faster reproduction as any understander of Darwin will tell you leads to a more evolved bacteria...

  5. Mark Roome

    Colonisation all over again

    So, say we DO eventually meet some freindly aliens (or even no so freindly), the same thing is going to happen to them as did the Native Americans or the Native Africans or the Native Natives ... ie getting almost wiped out by flu, chicken pox et al.

  6. Peter D'Hoye


    Gabor Laszlo: sure the astronauts are disinfected before flight, where do you think the booze stories come from?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gerbils \ Guneapigs - whats the difference anyway

    A guneapig is plate sized (ask a peruvian) a gerbil is the size of a mars bar..

    Oer Gerbils From Space!

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I microgravity the real culprit?

    At the scale of chemical reactions, gravity is an extremely weak force. How can the scientists be so sure the difference is due to microgravity? Even at the scale of bacteria (many times that of proteins), gravity is extremely weak. Unless the experiment can be repeated and other factors (acceleration into space, trace chemical, or increased radiation in space (a much more likely candidate)) can be ruled out, I am sceptical. Gabor Laszlo makes a good point indeed.

  9. Stu

    I love those analogies...

    ..."trip a switch" - So the great maker (I'm not religious btw) decided that bacterium have a magic 'no gravity=3x virulent' switch - sounds like something a BBC journo would say.

    Just what is it about evolution for millenia on a 1x gravity planet that makes it more effective in a 0x gravity environment!? I thought if you take an organism out of its natural habitat it will not have developed any necessary skills/processes to be any better but will be much worse.

    Now try the experiment with other dangerous bacterium, I'd say it happened by chance in this salmonella. In fact I'd think they did actually carry the tests out on lots of bacterium, and this single one showed the effects causing the sensational storyline! Journalists eh? Who needs em!? ;-)

    Another possibility is that because the shuttle was travelling at thousands of miles an hour for days that the effects of time slowed where they were in relation to the earthbound parallel experiments, hence giving the bacterium 3x as long to form!? ;-) *joke*

  10. Darrell


    Why not send the hippies into space to see if the micro gravity has the same super growth reaction to the bits of their brains that control logic!

    Maybe they'll come back reasonable human beings instead of beardy, gibbering, rodent worrying, grave robbers with nothing better to do than complain about the people that help to keep them disease and B.O. free!

    The bloody fools. I'd rather have the death of a hundred pesky mice on my hands than a nasty caustic burning sensation from untested products.

  11. Darrell

    @I microgravity the real culprit?

    "increased radiation in space (a much more likely candidate)"

    Don't be silly Michael everyone knows that space radiation makes things grow monstrously bigger and more aggressive, or it gives you super powers (a'la fantastic four) not multiply faster.

  12. Acme Fixer

    Better Disease Control

    ".. the research could pave the way for better disease control on Earth.."

    Yeah, just put the sick patient in a centrifuge and spin him up to 10 or 20 times gravity, and bingo, there you have it! No germs, and a scrambled human being!

  13. Bill Fresher


    I reckon the air in the Space Station is the cause of this. Less oxygen could cause the Salmonella bacteria to be more virulent. That or the extra nutrition from all the astronaut farts floating around. Crank up the oxygen levels and fix the filter and then try the experiment again.

  14. Edward Pearson

    This is the stuff...

    ...that crappy movies are made of.

  15. Tawakalna

    so we shouldn't be surprised...

    ..that those people in the Andes are falling ill then from the meteor=crashed alien spaceship that plonked itself near Lake Quetzacoatl or whatever its called. I know what I think when someone mentions alien superbugs and it ain't bacteria! it's things twice as tall as a man with the tentacles and the teeth and the lust for nubile human females. Oh well at least Mrs Taw will be safe <ouch!> I mean, in great danger! <double ouch!>

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting result.

    I'll be keeping an eye on the conclusions which are drawn from these results.

    Does this imply the possibly that life evolved in microgravity?

  17. A. Merkin

    I'm opposed to needless Virulence!

    Perhaps these organisms were from space originally, and only adapted to earthly conditions relatively recently?

    Whatever the cause, we'd better keep antigravity out of the hands of the terrorist, otherwise they'll be breeding their own superbugs.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Gabor Laszlo

    The Apollo 1 astronauts were completely disinfected...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If this isn't just a coincidence I can see great weapons potential for this process no guarantees of course but more studies should be done the sooner mankind has good die off the better Kissinger was right.

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