Germs Taken Into Space Come Back Deadlier
Bacteria that was sent into space on the shuttle came back to Earth genetically altered and significantly deadlier.
Salmonella, the bacterium that causes food poisoning, was sent in special test tubes as a payload on the space shuttle Atlantis in September 2006. When it returned, scientists found the bugs were three times more deadly to laboratory mice than the same germs grown in identical containers and at the same temperature and humidity as on the spacecraft.
The story goes on to report that while only 167 of their estimated 4,000 genes were altered, the survival rate of the bacteria went from 40% to only 10%. The test was designed to see how pathogens (disease-causing germs) might be effected by space travel, and the article notes that despite our best efforts, a pathogen may slip through, change and become much more lethal that originally intended.
Scientists also hope the results will help them work on tools to fight infections here on earth.