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Characterizing the Effects of Spaceflight on the Candida albicans Adaptation Response (NNX15AB37G)
Research Area:
Cellular and molecular biology
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Candida albicans Species: Yeast

The common yeast pathogen, Candida albicans, can cause a range of diseases from superficial skin infections to systemic and life threatening infections in immunocompromised individuals. Most members of the population are carriers of this yeast at some point in their lifetime. This point becomes more concerning for astronauts who experience diminished immune responsiveness during spaceflight. In addition, many bacteria have been shown to become more virulent when grown in space. The combination of increased virulence and diminished immunity can jeopardize the health and wellbeing of flight crew. The goal of these studies is to characterize the mechanisms underlying the adaptation responses we have observed in yeast grown in modeled microgravity and in spaceflight. In addition, we will focus on determining whether yeast also become more virulent when grown in space, as our observed cellular alterations might predict. Furthermore, we will define the environmental stressors that exist during spaceflight that influence yeast growth. Our overriding research goals are to characterize the virulence of Candida albicans in the space environment, to understand which aspects of the environment contribute to adaptive changes within the yeast, and to identify targets that might be exploited to control yeast infection in space and on Earth.

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Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Ames Research Center (ARC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Ames Research Center LSDA Level 3
Project Manager: Helen Stewart
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2014 Space Biology NNH14Z