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The HI-SEAS IV mission's microbiome dynamics and their implications for upcoming crewed missions beyond Earth

Author(s): Mohamed Alber

 Microbiome and health are closely related concepts. For safe and successful long-term space travel, resilient microbiomes in, on, and around the human body will be essential. However, longitudinal dynamics of microbiomes inside constrained constructed settings are still poorly understood. Here, we investigated microbial transfer between crew and habitat as part of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation IV (HI-SEAS IV) mission, a one-year isolation study, in order to comprehend negative developments that may take place in a future colony on the Moon or Mars. Significant changes in microbial diversity, abundance, and composition between samples of the constructed environment and its crew were found using longitudinal 16S rRNA gene profiles and quantitative data. The microbial skin profiles of individual crew members were found to be highly dynamic, resulting in an increased microbiome diversity at the end of the isolation period, in contrast to the microbiome composition and diversity associated with abiotic surfaces, which were found to be relatively stable. Within the first 200 days, there was a frequent transfer of the indicator species Methanobrevibacter between crew members, which highlighted the dynamics of the skin microbiome. 

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