A new study surfacing from University of Colorado marked a startling discovery regarding the survival of bacteria in space. According to the experiment conducted by scientists aboard NASA's International Space Station (ISS), the bacteria essentially shape-shifted when it was exposed to common antibiotics.
The research which was published in 'Frontiers in Microbiology', exposed cultures of E. coli bacteria in varying concentrations of the antibiotic gentamicin sulfate, known for killing micro organisms on Earth. However, in the near-zero gravity environment these bacteria were found to be far more resilient.
When compared to a control group of the bacteria on Earth, exposure to gentamicin sulfate resulted in a 13-fold increase in bacterial cell numbers and a 73 percent reduction in cell volume size.
"We knew bacteria behave differently in space and that it takes higher concentrations of antibiotics to kill them", said Dr Luis Zea, lead author of the study.
"What's new is that we conducted a systematic analysis of the changing physical appearance of the bacteria during the experiments," he added.
These findings of the bacteria in near-weightlessness environments could help researchers find new ways in medicating astronauts diagnosed with infections and to thwart high degree of adaptability of bacteria.