Lee MD, O'Rourke A, Lorenzi H, Bebout BM, Dupont CL, Everroad RC
Reference-guided metagenomics reveals genome-level evidence of potential microbial transmission from the ISS environment to an astronaut's microbiome.
iScience. 2021-02-19; 24.2: 102114.
Monitoring microbial communities aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is essential to maintaining astronaut health and the integrity of life-support systems. Using assembled genomes of ISS-derived microbial isolates as references, recruiting metagenomic reads from an astronaut's nasal microbiome revealed no recruitment to a isolate from samples before launch, yet systematic recruitment across the genome when sampled after 3 months aboard the ISS, with a median percent identity of 100%. This suggests that either a highly similar . population colonized the astronaut's nasal microbiome while the astronaut was aboard the ISS or that it may have been below detection before spaceflight, instead supporting a shift in community composition. This work highlights the value in generating genomic libraries of microbes from built-environments such as the ISS and demonstrates one way such data can be integrated with metagenomics to facilitate the tracking and monitoring of astronaut microbiomes and health.