Project Title:  Investigating the Roles of Melanin and DNA Repair on Adaptation and Survivability of Fungi in Deep Space Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2019 
Division: Space Biology 
Research Discipline/Element:
Cell & Molecular Biology | Microbiology 
Start Date: 07/15/2019  
End Date: 07/15/2022  
Task Last Updated: 10/22/2019 
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Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Wang, Zheng  Ph.D. / Naval Research Laboratory 
Address:  4555 Overlook Ave SW 
Washington , DC 20375-0001 
Phone: 202-404-1007  
Congressional District:
Organization Type: GOVERNMENT 
Organization Name: Naval Research Laboratory 
Joint Agency:  
Schultzhaus, Zachary  Ph.D. National Research Council 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNK19OB09A 
Responsible Center: NASA KSC 
Grant Monitor: Freeland, Denise  
Center Contact: 321-867-5878 
Solicitation: 2018 Space Biology (ROSBio) NNH18ZTT001N-Artemis1 (EM1). App A: Orion (Artemis-1) (formerly Exploration Mission-1) 
Grant/Contract No.: NNK19OB09A 
Project Type: FLIGHT 
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Space Biology Element: (1) Cell & Molecular Biology
(2) Microbiology
Space Biology Cross-Element Discipline: None
Space Biology Special Category: None
Task Description: Spaceflight to regions beyond low Earth orbit involves exposure to unique environmental hazards, most notably radiation. Humans traveling to these regions will be exposed to radiation from cosmic rays, which will cause DNA damage and oxidative stress. The extent of this damage, however, is unknown, and more basic research into the genetic effects of combined cosmic ray and microgravity exposure is needed. We propose to study these effects using a type of organism that is almost certain to inadvertently accompany astronauts on all of their flights – fungi. Fungi are remarkably stress-resistant and have been isolated several times from spacecraft. The objective of this proposal is to use the well-studied mold Aspergillus nidulans to test two mechanisms for space adaptation – DNA repair and the production of melanin. Mutants of this organism that cannot make melanin or are defective in a type of DNA repair associated with recovering from radiation will be used. When the samples return, the spores that these strains produce will be tested for their survival, and their protein and DNA will be analyzed to find molecular signatures of adaptation to deep space. The data we collect will tell us several things: whether melanin protects from the stresses faced during spaceflight, the types of DNA damage that occur in space, and what changes occur in fungi when they are adapted to prolonged spaceflight. The results will determine characteristics of the fungi that astronauts may have to control on future missions, including pathogenic species. Because fungi share many proteins with humans, the data collected on the proteins involved in adaptation can be applicable to astronaut health. Finally, determining whether melanin assists with survival in space will provide more evidence for it to be used as a protective material for several future NASA applications.

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Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2019 
Task Progress: New project for FY2019.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: )  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 None in FY 2019