Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

BPoD is 5

In 2017 we celebrate five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

Space Fungus
27 July 2017

Space Fungus

Countless movies have been made about aliens attacking vulnerable astronauts as they explore the cosmos. But in real life, the greatest threat to space travellers’ health will probably come from earth-based hitch-hikers. By studying volunteers living for 30 days in this sealed spaceship simulator in a car park, NASA scientists have discovered that the presence of these ‘astronauts’ affects the types of microscopic fungi living alongside them. The researchers found that the numbers of certain kinds of fungi increased while the volunteers were living in the simulator, including harmful ones that can live in or on the body and cause allergies, asthma and skin infections. There’s a worry that the stressful conditions inside space ships and stations might bring down the astronauts’ immune defences, making them more likely to pick up fungal diseases. Knowing how fungal populations change in these environments will reveal how best to protect our future space explorers.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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