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A vision for spaceflight microbiology to enable human health and habitat sustainability

Microbiological research has made important discoveries about how life responds to non-terrestrial environments, such as those found aboard the International Space Station. As human space exploration transitions to longer, deep-space missions, microorganisms will continue to play an increasingly critical role in astronaut health, habitat sustainability and mission success.

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Fig. 1: Reduced gravity environments associated with spaceflight.


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C.A.N., J.B. and C.M.O. were funded by NASA grants NNX15AL06G, NNX17AC79G, 80NSSC18K1478 (includes NASA PECASE funding to J.B.) and 80NSSC20K0016. Many of the topics discussed here were the focus of a Nature conference, The Microbiology of Human Spaceflight, held at the NASA Johnson Space Center in June, 2019; we thank the participants of that conference for their ideas and discussions (

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C.A.N. and C.M.O. drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the revisions and final draft of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cheryl A. Nickerson.

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C.A.N. is the editor-in-chief for npj Microgravity, C.M.O. is deputy editor and J.B. is an editor.

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Nickerson, C.A., Medina-Colorado, A.A., Barrila, J. et al. A vision for spaceflight microbiology to enable human health and habitat sustainability. Nat Microbiol 7, 471–474 (2022).

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