Thursday , July 29 2021

NASA warning: "Toxic" space mushrooms found at the International Space Station | Science News

Life on Earth continues to disturb scientists through their ability to withstand difficult conditions. From lichen, living in the frozen Arctic to thermophiles, thriving in exposed hydrothermal openings, life easily survives, regardless of the extremes it faces on Earth. So it should not be surprising that the fungi have been found hitchhiked with people on a NASA spacecraft.

Microscopic residents like simple mushrooms remain relatively underdeveloped in space, unlike bacteria.

It is known that these small forms of mushrooms can cause health problems to those with a compromised immune system and those in stressful environments.

And the surprising discovery of fungi in space has caused concern.

The astronaut's hard experience of survival of space rigidity has been shown to affect astronaut immune systems.

This has led a team from the Belgian University of Ghent to study how fungi can affect the health of people living in space.

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However, research has done little to arrest the concern.

Professor Sarah de Saiger, co-author of the new paper of a pharmaceutical scientist, said: "We found almost nothing about mycotoxins."

This lack of knowledge is problematic because the fungi found on NASA spacecraft, such as Aspergillus flavus and members of the genus Alternaria, can produce cancer and immunodepression compounds.

And these molecules are often formed when the fungi are loaded.

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The reasoning is, if space is a stressful environment for people, it can also be stressful for the fungus.

Whether astronauts are actually affected by such toxins remain unknown, Professor de Saiger added.

The team at Ghent University believes that space agencies such as NASA should better discover and explore mycotoxins in space.

Researchers explicitly propose to develop new methods for observing the surfaces and atmospheres of spacecraft.

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Most fungal discoveries are currently being carried out by sending samples back to the Earth's laboratories, but this is impossible for long-term space missions, such as an expected mission on Mars.

However, Professor De Saeger stressed that the presence of mycotoxins is not necessarily dangerous for astronauts.

Millions of us here on Earth are often exposed to these microscopic compounds, but their specific contribution to various diseases is not always easy to follow.

However, mushrooms can grow and develop in the closed environment of a long-term space mission.

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Dr. Adriana Blahovic, who has studied the International Space Station's fungi but has not participated in the Ghent University study, says: "I think the biggest message is that the fungus and the bacteria are an integral part of the human body.

"Wherever we go, the fungi and bacteria will follow."

Bacteria have shown to become more virulent in space, so there are some concerns that the fungus can also occur.

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