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Project Title:  Characterizing the Effects of Spaceflight on the Candida albicans Adaptation Response Expand All
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2019 
Division: Space Biology 
Research Discipline/Element:
Cell & Molecular Biology | Microbiology 
Start Date: 11/01/2014  
End Date: 03/31/2020  
Task Last Updated: 07/01/2019 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Nielsen, Sheila  Ph.D. / Montana State University 
Address:  Leon Johnson Hall, room 315 
 
Bozeman , MT 59717 
Email: sheila.nielsen@montana.edu 
Phone: 406-994-5177  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Montana State University 
Comments: PI name change to Sheila Nielsen in 2014 (formerly Sheila Nielsen-Preiss)--Ed., 1/12/2015 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX15AB37G 
Responsible Center: NASA ARC 
Grant Monitor: Sato, Kevin  
Center Contact: 650-604-1104 
kevin.y.sato@nasa.gov 
Solicitation: 2014 Space Biology Flight NNH14ZTT001N 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX15AB37G 
Project Type: FLIGHT  
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Space Biology Element: (1) Cell & Molecular Biology
(2) Microbiology
Space Biology Cross-Element Discipline: (1) Reproductive Biology
 (2) Immunology
Space Biology Special Category: (1) Translational (Countermeasure) Potential
Task Description: The common yeast pathogen, Candida albicans, can cause a range of diseases from superficial skin infections to systemic and life threatening infections in immunocompromised individuals. Most members of the population are carriers of this yeast at some point in their lifetime. This point becomes more concerning for astronauts who experience diminished immune responsiveness during spaceflight. In addition, many bacteria have been shown to become more virulent when grown in space. The combination of increased virulence and diminished immunity can jeopardize the health and wellbeing of flight crew. The goal of these studies is to characterize the mechanisms underlying the adaptation responses we have observed in yeast grown in modeled microgravity and in spaceflight. In addition, we will focus on determining whether yeast also become more virulent when grown in space, as our observed cellular alterations might predict. Furthermore, we will define the environmental stressors that exist during spaceflight that influence yeast growth. Our overriding research goals are to characterize the virulence of Candida albicans in the space environment, to understand which aspects of the environment contribute to adaptive changes within the yeast, and to identify targets that might be exploited to control yeast infection in space and on Earth.

 

Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: Extended to 3/31/2020 per F. Hernandez/ARC and NSSC information (Ed., 6/11/19)

NOTE: Extended to 4/30/2019 per F. Hernandez/ARC (Ed., 11/2/17)

NOTE: End date changed to 10/31/2017 per NSSC information (Ed., 11/29/16)

 

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: There are low fluid shear environments within the human host so we hope to exploit the low fluid shear environment of microgravity to better understand the yeast adaptation to this physical force and the microenvironment created by it.

 

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2019 
Task Progress: [Ed. note (June 2019)--compiled from PI's technical progess report covering work done through February 2019]

Our overriding hypothesis is that exposure of C. albicans to microgravity will alter gene expression and morphology, consistent with a potential increase in virulence. More specifically, we suggest that diminished fluid shear results in alterations to the physical environment that contribute, directly or indirectly, to adaptations in the yeast cell surface resulting in increased virulence. Notably, these studies will further explore and document the genotypic and phenotypic parameters of C. albicans associated with pathogenicity, identify specific environmental influences on the physiological adaptation processes, and provide insight into mechanisms used by higher eukaryotes when adapting to spaceflight conditions.

Objectives/Aims of Investigation

• Evaluate the microgravity-induced alterations in biosynthetic regulation, cellular content, and subcellular localization of ergosterol and b-glucans.

• Delineate the contributions of fluid shear, oxygen depletion, and carbon dioxide enrichment in the microenvironment to cellular adaptation responses.

• Characterize the effect of spaceflight on C. albicans virulence using a human monocyte host.

The experiments included in the payload that flew on Space X CRS-16 specifically addressed Aim #2 (internally the payload is being referred to Micro-14alpha). Additional experiments flew on Space X CRS-17 and will address the other aims listed above (Micro-14beta). Initial reporting for both aspects of this payload will occur mid-summer 2019.

A full scale experiment verification test (EVT) (including all hardware components for the full Micro-14 payload) was initiated on 9/24/18 with BioServe Space Technologies personnel on site.

The 6-well BioCell and FEP (fluorinated ethylene-propylene) bag experiments were carried to completion as planned and on schedule. The Fluid Processing Apparatus (FPA) in experiments required some final adaptations.

Ultimately, each phase of the FPA experiment was completed, albeit with overlapping timelines. Selection for Flight permission was granted on 11/14/18, with some reservations due to the compartmentalized nature of the FPA EVT.

Experiment preparation:

FPA loading spanned 11/29/18 (L-5) through 12/1/18 (L-3, including a reload of one condition – N2). FPAs were handed over to BioServe on 12/2/18 at 8 am for incorporation into Group Activation Packs (GAP). GAPs were turned over to CMC on 12/3/18 at 8 am. Launch was delayed 24 hrs to 12/5/18 at 1:16 pm, without implications for the Micro-14a payload.

On-orbit Operations:

Spaceflight time line -- all ground controls were conducted with a 1-hr offset based on real time communication with BioServe. Ground GAPs were stored on the horizontal and rotated 180° daily. When at 30°C, the ground GAPs were laid on the horizontal and very slowly rocked length wise.

 

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/26/2018)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2019
Project Title:  Characterizing the Effects of Spaceflight on the Candida albicans Adaptation Response Expand All
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2018 
Division: Space Biology 
Research Discipline/Element:
Cell & Molecular Biology | Microbiology 
Start Date: 11/01/2014  
End Date: 04/30/2019  
Task Last Updated: 11/21/2017 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Nielsen, Sheila  Ph.D. / Montana State University 
Address:  Leon Johnson Hall, room 315 
 
Bozeman , MT 59717 
Email: sheila.nielsen@montana.edu 
Phone: 406-994-5177  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Montana State University 
Comments: PI name change to Sheila Nielsen in 2014 (formerly Sheila Nielsen-Preiss)--Ed., 1/12/2015 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX15AB37G 
Responsible Center: NASA ARC 
Grant Monitor: Sato, Kevin  
Center Contact: 650-604-1104 
kevin.y.sato@nasa.gov 
Solicitation: 2014 Space Biology Flight NNH14ZTT001N 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX15AB37G 
Project Type: FLIGHT  
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Space Biology Element: (1) Cell & Molecular Biology
(2) Microbiology
Space Biology Cross-Element Discipline: (1) Reproductive Biology
 (2) Immunology
Space Biology Special Category: (1) Translational (Countermeasure) Potential
Task Description: The common yeast pathogen, Candida albicans, can cause a range of diseases from superficial skin infections to systemic and life threatening infections in immunocompromised individuals. Most members of the population are carriers of this yeast at some point in their lifetime. This point becomes more concerning for astronauts who experience diminished immune responsiveness during spaceflight. In addition, many bacteria have been shown to become more virulent when grown in space. The combination of increased virulence and diminished immunity can jeopardize the health and wellbeing of flight crew. The goal of these studies is to characterize the mechanisms underlying the adaptation responses we have observed in yeast grown in modeled microgravity and in spaceflight. In addition, we will focus on determining whether yeast also become more virulent when grown in space, as our observed cellular alterations might predict. Furthermore, we will define the environmental stressors that exist during spaceflight that influence yeast growth. Our overriding research goals are to characterize the virulence of Candida albicans in the space environment, to understand which aspects of the environment contribute to adaptive changes within the yeast, and to identify targets that might be exploited to control yeast infection in space and on Earth.

 

Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: Extended to 4/30/2019 per F. Hernandez/ARC (Ed., 11/2/17)

NOTE: End date changed to 10/31/2017 per NSSC information (Ed., 11/29/16)

 

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: There are low fluid shear environments within the human host so we hope to exploit the low fluid shear environment of microgravity to better understand the yeast adaptation to this physical force and the microenvironment created by it.

 

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2018 
Task Progress: In late 2015 and early 2016 it was announced that crew time was essentially unavailable. We could either convert our studies to ground-based only, or evaluate conditions by which the experiments could be held on station until crew had time to conduct them (likely in ‘down’ time between capsule dockings). We spent significant time performing storage studies--how long, what temperature, under what conditions, for our cells and reagents. In July 2016 I visited NASA Ames for our Kickoff meeting. There were no additional flight opportunities for awhile after that and we stood down waiting for next steps. Communication was reestablished in August 2017 and we are now preparing for a potential flight opportunity.

 

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/26/2018)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2018
Project Title:  Characterizing the Effects of Spaceflight on the Candida albicans Adaptation Response Expand All
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2016 
Division: Space Biology 
Research Discipline/Element:
Cell & Molecular Biology | Microbiology 
Start Date: 11/01/2014  
End Date: 04/30/2019  
Task Last Updated: 08/02/2016 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Nielsen, Sheila  Ph.D. / Montana State University 
Address:  Leon Johnson Hall, room 315 
 
Bozeman , MT 59717 
Email: sheila.nielsen@montana.edu 
Phone: 406-994-5177  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Montana State University 
Comments: PI name change to Sheila Nielsen in 2014 (formerly Sheila Nielsen-Preiss)--Ed., 1/12/2015 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX15AB37G 
Responsible Center: NASA ARC 
Grant Monitor: Taylor, Elizabeth  
Center Contact: 650.604.1783 
elizabeth.taylor-23@nasa.gov 
Solicitation: 2014 Space Biology Flight NNH14ZTT001N 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX15AB37G 
Project Type: FLIGHT  
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Space Biology Element: (1) Cell & Molecular Biology
(2) Microbiology
Space Biology Cross-Element Discipline: (1) Reproductive Biology
 (2) Immunology
Space Biology Special Category: (1) Translational (Countermeasure) Potential
Task Description: The common yeast pathogen, Candida albicans, can cause a range of diseases from superficial skin infections to systemic and life threatening infections in immunocompromised individuals. Most members of the population are carriers of this yeast at some point in their lifetime. This point becomes more concerning for astronauts who experience diminished immune responsiveness during spaceflight. In addition, many bacteria have been shown to become more virulent when grown in space. The combination of increased virulence and diminished immunity can jeopardize the health and wellbeing of flight crew. The goal of these studies is to characterize the mechanisms underlying the adaptation responses we have observed in yeast grown in modeled microgravity and in spaceflight. In addition, we will focus on determining whether yeast also become more virulent when grown in space, as our observed cellular alterations might predict. Furthermore, we will define the environmental stressors that exist during spaceflight that influence yeast growth. Our overriding research goals are to characterize the virulence of Candida albicans in the space environment, to understand which aspects of the environment contribute to adaptive changes within the yeast, and to identify targets that might be exploited to control yeast infection in space and on Earth.

 

Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: Extended to 4/30/2019 per F. Hernandez/ARC (Ed., 11/2/17)

NOTE: End date changed to 10/31/2017 per NSSC information (Ed., 11/29/16)

 

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: There are low fluid shear environments within the human host so we hope to exploit the low fluid shear environment of microgravity to better understand the yeast adaptation to this physical force and the microenvironment created by it.

 

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2016 
Task Progress: There has been no progress on this grant as of yet due to funding delays. We received the initial funds in July 2015. Messaging in November suggested we be conservative with our plans because of such limited crew time (therefore no flight opportunities). There was a distribution in April 2016 and then we had our Flight Definition Plan Review in July 2016. It was at this point we were effectively given permission to begin preliminary work for the next flight.

 

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/26/2018)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2016
Project Title:  Characterizing the Effects of Spaceflight on the Candida albicans Adaptation Response Expand All
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2015 
Division: Space Biology 
Research Discipline/Element:
Cell & Molecular Biology | Microbiology 
Start Date: 11/01/2014  
End Date: 10/31/2016  
Task Last Updated: 12/18/2014 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Nielsen, Sheila  Ph.D. / Montana State University 
Address:  Leon Johnson Hall, room 315 
 
Bozeman , MT 59717 
Email: sheila.nielsen@montana.edu 
Phone: 406-994-5177  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Montana State University 
Comments: PI name change to Sheila Nielsen in 2014 (formerly Sheila Nielsen-Preiss)--Ed., 1/12/2015 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX15AB37G 
Responsible Center: NASA ARC 
Grant Monitor: Smith, Jeffrey  
Center Contact: 650-604-0880 
jeffrey.d.smith2@nasa.gov 
Solicitation: 2014 Space Biology Flight NNH14ZTT001N 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX15AB37G 
Project Type: FLIGHT  
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:  
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:  
No. of PhD Degrees:  
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:  
Space Biology Element: (1) Cell & Molecular Biology
(2) Microbiology
Space Biology Cross-Element Discipline: (1) Reproductive Biology
 (2) Immunology
Space Biology Special Category: (1) Translational (Countermeasure) Potential
Task Description: The common yeast pathogen, Candida albicans, can cause a range of diseases from superficial skin infections to systemic and life threatening infections in immunocompromised individuals. Most members of the population are carriers of this yeast at some point in their lifetime. This point becomes more concerning for astronauts who experience diminished immune responsiveness during spaceflight. In addition, many bacteria have been shown to become more virulent when grown in space. The combination of increased virulence and diminished immunity can jeopardize the health and wellbeing of flight crew. The goal of these studies is to characterize the mechanisms underlying the adaptation responses we have observed in yeast grown in modeled microgravity and in spaceflight. In addition, we will focus on determining whether yeast also become more virulent when grown in space, as our observed cellular alterations might predict. Furthermore, we will define the environmental stressors that exist during spaceflight that influence yeast growth. Our overriding research goals are to characterize the virulence of Candida albicans in the space environment, to understand which aspects of the environment contribute to adaptive changes within the yeast, and to identify targets that might be exploited to control yeast infection in space and on Earth.

 

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Research results may be used to identify targets that might be exploited to control yeast infection in space and on Earth.

 

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2015 
Task Progress: New project for FY2015.

 

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/26/2018)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2015