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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2009 Aug;96(2):227-45. doi: 10.1007/s10482-009-9360-5. Epub 2009 Jul 2.

The response of Cupriavidus metallidurans CH34 to spaceflight in the international space station.

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  • 1Expert Group Molecular and Cellular Biology, Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK*CEN), Boeretang 200, 2400, Mol, Belgium.


The survival and behavior of Cupriavidus metallidurans strain CH34 were tested in space. In three spaceflight experiments, during three separate visits to the 'International Space Station' (ISS), strain CH34 was grown for 10-12 days at ambient temperature on mineral agar medium. Space- and earth-grown cells were compared post-flight by flow cytometry and using 2D-gel protein analysis. Pre-, in- and post-flight incubation conditions and experiment design had a significant impact on the survival and growth of CH34 in space. In the CH34 cells returning from spaceflight, 16 proteins were identified which were present in higher concentration in cells developed in spaceflight conditions. These proteins were involved in a specific response of CH34 to carbon limitation and oxidative stress, and included an acetone carboxylase subunit, fructose biphosphate aldolase, a DNA protection during starvation protein, chaperone protein, universal stress protein, and alkyl hydroperoxide reductase. The reproducible observation of the over-expression of these same proteins in multiple flight experiments, indicated that the CH34 cells could experience a substrate limitation and oxidative stress in spaceflight where cells and substrates are exposed to lower levels of gravity and higher doses of ionizing radiation. Bacterium C. metallidurans CH34 was able to grow normally under spaceflight conditions with very minor to no effects on cell physiology, but nevertheless specifically altered the expression of a few proteins in response to the environmental changes.

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