Novel Species Of Fungi And Bacteria Found On The ISS": Biotia Hired By NASA-JPL As A Space Station Sleuth For Pathogens
NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / January 12, 2021 / Biotia, a Cornell Tech-launched infectious disease detection company, has been enlisted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California to track, analyze and characterize novel bacterial and fungal strains from the International Space Station (ISS) collected during space missions.
In their work, JPL, Dr. Christopher Mason's lab at Weill Cornell Medicine and Biotia have collected thousands of samples from the environment of the ISS, cultured to grow these microbes, sequenced them using next-generation sequencing, and assembled their genomes. Upon comparison to existing published genomes, the researchers found at least 75 new strains comprising more than 20 novel species of fungi and bacteria. More information may be found at Microbiology Resource Announcements in the American Society for Microbiology. This work was funded by 2012 Space Biology project NNH12ZTT001N grant 19-12829-26.
"Since wherever we go, our microbes follow, even to space, NASA has been running microbial tracking experiments to better understand the environmental microbiome of spacecraft seeded by astronauts and accompanying cargo," said Dr. Niamh O'Hara, co-founder, and CEO of Biotia. "This work is important for astronauts' health on long-term missions, as they may become immunocompromised. Additionally, this work presents a fascinating experiment in an extraordinary environment," Dr. O'Hara added.
"We have just begun to scratch the surface," said Dr. Christopher Mason, Associate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, and of Computational Genomics in Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and co-founder of Biotia. "The space environment creates unique evolutionary pressures on the microorganisms that manage to survive. Thus, it is a perpetual genetic fountain of new biology and a continually expanding catalog of microbial adaptation, which can help us for future missions to Mars as well as to better understand fast-evolving strains in hospitals here on Earth", he added.
The Biotia and JPL team research is important for present space exploration activities, as well as future Mars and Lunar expeditions. On Earth, Biotia has also worked with NASA on the validation of an end-to-end testing protocol to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the environment as published recently in the journal mSystems.
Biotia is a health-tech company located in New York, NY, that leverages sequencing-based technology and proprietary AI-powered software to rapidly and accurately identify microorganisms and antimicrobial resistance. Their mission is to fight infectious diseases by deploying the leading reference library of microbes worldwide. As a spinout company of Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, Biotia has a New York State CLIA lab for infectious disease diagnostics testing affiliated with SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.