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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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Acknowledgements

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 (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/the-microbiology-of-human-spaceflight-conference-proceedings).

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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). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-021-01015-6

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