Fungi Threatening Astronauts: Causes Of Concern

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Even in extreme conditions that don’t seem very friendly, life still manages to flourish, which always leave scientist baffled.

The latest event of this kind is that of the fungi that were recently found on NASA’s spacecraft. While bacteria were known to grow in space, this is the first encounter of fungi on a spacecraft.

Causes Of Concern

You may think this is not that big of a deal, but those with weak immune systems, like astronauts have from being in a constantly stressful environment, can suffer from many health problems when exposed to these organisms. Therefore, this discovery has caused a lot of worries.

One of the biggest concerns is that, after bacteria have proven to become destructive in space, fungi could do the same.

Possible Explanations

The confined space of a spaceship in a prolonged mission could be the reason why fungi have the ability to grow in space.

Dr. Adriana Blachowicz expressed her thoughts on the matter. She believes that, because our bodies contain fungi and bacteria, they will follow us anywhere we go.

Searching For Solutions

In order to find a solution, a team of researchers from Ghent University in Belgium decided to study the ways fungi can affect astronauts’ health. Unfortunately, they were not successful, as they could not find relevant information.

Finding a way to eliminate the threat is crucial, as the fungi found on NASA’s spacecraft, belonging to the genus Alternarnia, can develop compounds that can lead to the weakening of the immune system and even cancer. This happens especially when fungi are under conditions of stress.

According to researchers’ recommendations, NASA should insist more on keeping an eye on surfaces and atmospheres of their ships, in order to prevent the growth of mycotoxins in space.


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