Four new strains of bacteria have been discovered from the International Space Station (ISS) by the Researchers from the University of Hyderabad, in coordination with NASA. The research was carried out at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology which was commissioned with NASA and the University of Southern California.
One of the strains, Methyl Rubrum rhodesianum, was already known but the other three rod-shaped bacteria were unknown, however, scientists were able to find out that they were most closely related to the bacteria species Methylobacterium indicum. Three of the strains, referred to as IF7SW-B2T, IIF1SW-B5, and IIF4SW-B5, were identified based on the traditional and genomic taxonomic approaches.
Researchers have now proposed to name this microbe Methylobacterium ajmalii (aj.ma’li.i.) after Seyed Ajmal Khan, who is a professor at the Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu. The cells of this strain are Gram-stain-negative, aerobic, and motile rods showing oxidase- and catalase-positive reactions.
These ISS strains were isolated at different time periods and from various locations, their perseverance in the ISS environment and ecology implication in the closed systems needs further study. As a part of an ongoing surveillance mission, eight locations on the ISS were being monitored for bacterial growths and have been for the last 6 years. The scientist have collected approximately 1,000 samples from various other locations on the space station and scientists are awaiting space station to come back to earth where they can further examined.