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Microbial Monitoring of Common Opportunistic Pathogens by Comparing Multiple Real-Time PCR Platforms for Potential Space ApplicationsBecause the International Space Station is a closed environment with rotations of astronauts and equipment that each introduce their own microbial flora, it is necessary to monitor the air, surfaces, and water for microbial contamination. Current microbial monitoring includes labor- and time-intensive methods to enumerate total bacterial and fungal cells, with limited characterization, during in-flight testing. Although this culture-based method is sufficient for monitoring the International Space Station, on future long-duration missions more detailed characterization will need to be performed during flight, as sample return and ground characterization may not be available. At a workshop held in 2011 at NASA's Johnson Space Center to discuss alternative methodologies and technologies suitable for microbial monitoring for these long-term exploration missions, molecular-based methodologies such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were recommended. In response, a multi-center (Marshall Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Kennedy Space Center) collaborative research effort was initiated to explore novel commercial-off-the-shelf hardware options for space flight environmental monitoring. The goal was to evaluate quantitative or semi-quantitative PCR approaches for low-cost in-flight rapid identification of microorganisms that could affect crew safety. The initial phase of this project identified commercially available platforms that could be minimally modified to perform nominally in microgravity. This phase was followed by proof-of-concept testing of the highest qualifying candidates with a universally available challenge organism, Salmonella enterica. The analysis identified two technologies that were able to perform sample-to-answer testing with initial cell sample concentrations between 50 and 400 cells. In addition, the commercial systems were evaluated for initial flight safety and readiness.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Kennedy Space Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Cherie M Oubre
(KBR (United States) Houston, Texas, United States)
Michele N Birmele
(Sierra Lobo (United States) Fremont, Ohio, United States)
Victoria A Castro
(KBR (United States) Houston, Texas, United States)
Kasthuri J Venkateswaran
(Jet Propulsion Lab La Cañada Flintridge, California, United States)
Parag A Vaishampayan
(Jet Propulsion Lab La Cañada Flintridge, California, United States)
Kathy U Jones
(Marshall Space Flight Center Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, United States)
Adesh Singhal
(Marshall Space Flight Center Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, United States)
Angela S Johnston
(Marshall Space Flight Center Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, United States)
Monserrate C Roman
(Marshall Space Flight Center Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, United States)
Tamra A Ozbolt
(Emerald City Initiatives Grant, Alabama, United States)
Daniel X Jett
(Teledyne Technologies (United States) Thousand Oaks, California, United States)
Michael S Roberts
(Consolidated Safety Services-Dynamac (United States) Fairfax, Virginia, United States)
C Mark Ott
(Johnson Space Center Houston, Texas, United States)
Date Acquired
August 27, 2013
Publication Date
July 14, 2013
Subject Category
Man/System Technology And Life Support
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: 43rd International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES)
Location: Vail, CO
Country: US
Start Date: July 14, 2013
End Date: July 18, 2013
Sponsors: International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Real time
PCR platforms
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