LOCAD-PTS: Operation of a new system for microbial monitoring aboard the International Space Station (ISS)
Jake, Maule, et al. (2008). "LOCAD-PTS: Operation of a new system for microbial monitoring aboard the International Space Station (ISS)." AIAA SPACE 2008 Conference & Exposition
Microorganisms within the space stations Salyut, Mir and the International Space Station (ISS), have traditionally been monitored with culture-based techniques. These techniques involve growing environmental samples (cabin water, air or surfaces) on agar-type media for several days, followed by visualization of resulting colonies; and return of samples to Earth for ground-based analysis. This approach has provided a wealth of useful data and enhanced our understanding of the microbial ecology within space stations. However, the approach is also limited by the following: i) More than 95% microorganisms in the environment cannot grow on conventional growth media; ii) Significant time lags occur between onboard sampling and colony visualization (3-5 days) and ground-based analysis (as long as several months); iii) Colonies are often difficult to visualize due to condensation within contact slide media plates; and iv) Techniques involve growth of potentially harmful microorganisms, which must then be disposed of safely. This report describes the operation of a new culture-independent technique onboard the ISS for rapid analysis (within minutes) of endotoxin and β-1, 3-glucan, found in the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria and fungi, respectively. This technique involves analysis of environmental samples with the Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) assay in a handheld device. This handheld device and sampling system is known as the Lab-On-a-Chip Application Development Portable Test System (LOCAD-PTS). A poster will be presented that describes a comparative study between LOCAD-PTS analysis and existing culture-based methods onboard the ISS; together with an exploratory survey of surface endotoxin throughout the ISS. It is concluded that while a general correlation between LOCAD-PTS and traditional culture-based methods should not necessarily be expected, a combinatorial approach can be adopted where both sets of data are used together to generate a more complete story of the microbial ecology on the ISS.
DOI: doi:10.2514/6.2008-7900 10.2514/6.2008-7900