There was an interesting blurb in the ASM news digest today; NASA is planning to use a pair of astronaut twins to do the first study of the microbiome in space! One twin will go aboard the International Space Station for one year, and his brother will stay on Earth. NASA will be looking to compare the effects of low gravity and other factors on the space “microbiome.” Albeit there are many flaws here (do they have similar microbiota now? Etc.), but still cool!
“Microbes in space
Fred Turek of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues will look at genetic changes resulting from cosmic radiation, or at differences in gut bacteria due to low gravity or astronaut diets. Such microbiome studies only began on the ISS this year, so there is a lot to learn.”
Also, it looks like there are already “space microbiome” studies underway; the Astronaut microbiome project is already in progress on the ISS (link from within the first article):