Mutant Space Bacteria – Real and Dangerous

Researchers from the University of Houston have been studying bacteria growth, change, and mutation in outer space. Their findings are becoming more and more alarming and can pose a serious threat to the health of our future astronauts. The studies have found that some bacterium thrive in the low to zero gravity environment provided in space. According to scientists, the mutation rate of these bacteria can be triple their rate of mutation on Earth.

A recent concern is that the thick and rapidly forming film coats space equipment and causes shortages in their circuits. This strange phenomenon has been encountered on a few recent missions along with at the International Space Station. The film is described as a goop or slime of some sort, caused by an unidentified mutation. The imperative question is, will this goop cause an extra effort for astronauts to only clean off their equipment? Or will it also pose a potentially deadly threat to them? The current consensus is that the bacteria should be treated as dangerous. Another growing worry is that the bacteria will become antibiotic resistant.

Escherichia Coli is a bacteria that lives in outer space and also mutates at a rate triple that of its Earthly counterparts. When Escherichia Coli was brought back to Earth for study purposes, it remained hyperactive. Scientists have been studying these particular bacteria for 1000 generations of its life, which at its extreme mutation rate is not very long in human years.

The concern revolves around astronauts’ weakening immune systems in the zero gravity environments that the bacteria seem to thrive in. Antibiotics are also needed in a stronger, more concentrated dosage when given in space, and if bacteria will not respond to even the potent dose, the problem is apparent. Regardless of the astronaut’s health on the ground, they face sickness including vomiting, dizziness, stomach discomfort, or more extreme illnesses including death.

Currently, the growing problem has not reached the level of high alert, but scientist hope to get a better understanding of what it is they’re working with. If researchers can get ahead of the mutating film, they’ll have a better insight on health concerns involving our future astronauts.


Seidel, Jamie. “Mutant Bacteria Threat from Space.” NewsComAu. N.p., 03 June 2017. Web. 04 June 2017.

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