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Bacteria More Virulent in Microgravity

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  • by hookedup (630460) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:30AM (#7598784)

    Would it's ability to be more virulent possibly come from it's relative ease of travel with no gravity? Like somehow gravity 'slows' the virus down when it's on the planet or something...ok...this is where i trail off...

    Go gentle on me.
    • "ok...this is where i trail off..."

      Relax, you still got insightful.

      "it's relative ease of travel with no gravity"

      Or bifurcation in three dimensions being a darn sight easier than in two dimensions and lacking any downward pressure on the cytoplasm meaning that a simple organism can redirect resources to it's primary function, reproduction...

      Empiricism gets really silly when they start going for the showy experiments. For example, is this limited to Salmonella, or do all bacteria show the same incre
      • Hmmm. I think these really-really small bacteria suspended in a liqiud medium don't care too much about the gravity. You know, they are so small the impact of individual molecules makes them shake. (see Brownian movement [bartleby.com] Yet we see these effects, apparantly....(I'd really like to see these effects being reproduced by another group) I don't think its that simple somehow....
    • Well, it'd be easier to take this comment seriously if:

      a) It were a virus; it's a bacteria. Virus don't move about by themselves.

      b) Gravity was thought to have much effect on things this small in a liquid medium - they are neutrally boyant and really, really light.

      c) You could spell "its".
  • by flagweb (311539) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:32AM (#7598823) Homepage
    May I be the first to volunteer to test the Brewers Yeast in space. Preferably in its fermented liquid state. I am especially interested if the space trip is free (as in Beer).
  • by krypticide (589771) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:34AM (#7598844)
    Soon the biggest occupant of near space will be giant breweries, with giant pipes connecting them to the ground to feed beer-lovers all over the world.

    • Great. It's fricken neoliberals like you who want nothing more than to see good ole American beverage manufacturing jobs disappear, outsourced to some cheap soulless outer-space assembly line mega-breweries.

      At least now I start understanding why everyone and their mom is so keen on sending people into orbit these days.

      No telling the sort of danger we'll face, with a bunch of hammered austronauts tear-assing around the space lanes. "Welcome aboard the USS Bob & Doug McKenzie"...
    • No no no. Surely it's:

      "Space... the final brewery..."

  • an experiment with brewer's yeast gets sent up on a Russian Progress rocket to the Space Station next year

    You have to wonder if a russian rocket in outer space is the safest place for a "brewer's yeast experiment".

    (apologies to russian readers for blatent stereotyping ;-)

  • by roshi (53475) on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:47AM (#7599635)
    Anyone care to enlighten me as to what "Modeled Microgravity" is exactly? How do you simulate u-G?

    Just wondering...
    • "How do you simulate u-G?"

      Drop something. Between the time taken to drop and hit something, you have microgravity.

      • OK, sure, Vomit Comet and all that, got it. But if you're going to assay the virulence of microorganisms, it stands to reason that you have to have them in micro-gravity for at least one round of cell division, and hopefully many more than that.
        Dropping the petri dish a few meters isn't going to give you that kind of time in a micro gravitational climate. Heck, even if you commision the aforementioned V.C. and send the micro-beasties on a 10-day sinusoidal roller-coaster ride, you're really assaying for vir
        • "But if you're going to assay the virulence of microorganisms, it stands to reason that you have to have them in micro-gravity for at least one round of cell division"

          You're not wrong, but one method is through electronic suspension of liquids...another is using shearing forces on rotating cylinders.

          I'd look for references, but I'm on my way home. ;)

          • by roshi (53475)
            I see. Did a bit of digging on my own. So the key point here is preventing the cells from accumulating on the bottom of a vessel and thereby forming unnatural multi-cell structures. You can't erase the acceleration on each individual cell (which is probably negligable anyway) but you can mitigate the collective effects, so the cells are "more micro-gravity like" in their conglomorate behavior.

            Still not convinced that cells in a rotating bio-reactor are a good model for cells in an in vivo micro-gravitati

            • Still not convinced that cells in a rotating bio-reactor are a good model for cells in an in vivo micro-gravitational environment, but at least "modeled micro-graviity" makes sense now!

              Actually, the whole thing is discussed on the NASA page [nasa.gov].

              My question is one of money and priorities. While they're concerned about the shear effects, which don't take place in "real" microgravity, it seems like there would be better uses for the ISS' mass budget than an experiment which can be replicated to a large extent
    • How do you simulate u-G?

      You use a rotating test chamber as shown in a figure from the fulltext [asm.org]. By rotating the chamber, gavity never acts in the same direction for very long and nothing settles out of solution. A second rotating chamber is oriented to let gravity work, while duplicating the effects of spin.

      Personally, I am skeptical that bacteria really experience gravity. Bacteria are too small -- at that scale most "fluids" are effectively the consistency of molasses in January. I wonder if som
    • the second page of the article has a lovely picture of a rotating wall vessel. Basically it spins and sets other forces inplace to counter the force of gravity. The common thing to do for simulating micro-G for big things (over short periods of time) is to drop them. Usually you drop them inside a plane so they don't stop suddenly.
  • With the recent concerns regarding the overuse of antibiotics, when to take them, etc., knowing the difference between a virus and a bacteria is more important than ever.

    Yet both of the articles use the term "virulent" to describe a bacteria.

    Technically it's not wrong, but it's not real smart either. The world of biology needs an Asimov in my opinion. But what we continue to get are cross-eyed terms like "virulent bacteria", and/or sensationalist writing styles which conjure up images of mad scientists
    • I can't help myself....
      From m-w.com:

      Main Entry: virulent
      Pronunciation: -l&nt
      Function: adjective
      Etymology: Middle English, from Latin virulentus, from viruspoison
      Date: 14th century
      1 a : marked by a rapid, severe, and malignant course b : able to overcome bodily defensive mechanisms
      2 : extremely poisonous or venomous
      3 : full of malice : MALIGNANT
      4 : objectionably harsh or strong
      - virulently adverb

      Virulent, as applied to bacteria, refers to its propensity to a) multiply quickly b) infect a host effici
    • The world of biology needs an Asimov in my opinion.

      It had one, his name was Isaac Asimov: Phd in microbiology.

      Now you know : )
    • The title "Bacteria more bacterial in microgravity" was considered, but it didn't have quite the same ring to it.
  • Less gravity = a larger three dimensional footprint within which to operate. It would be able to spread 'up' easier if you like.
  • by shadwwulf (145057) on Monday December 01, 2003 @01:06PM (#7600568) Homepage
    ...if less gravity makes bacteria more virulent, does more than 1x g's cause the bacteria to become less virulent? If so I wonder if we'll be seeing medical equipment down the road that flattens you to a spinning wall much like a specific type of amusement park ride of today does.

    All in the name of curing a bacterial infection...

    Just a thought...

    • Except, an already weakened individual probably shouldn't be subjected to additional gravitational force. After all, if this were the case, how MUCH force needs to be added before the bacteria's spread slows to the point where it dies / is killed faster than it can be reproduced?
    • Come on, folks. Insightful? The parent post was being Funny. I hope.

      High g forces will kill a bacterium. One technique sometimes used in biology labs to extract the content of cells is centrifugation--fifteen thousand gees for a handful of minutes will crush most cells and let you get at the goodness inside.

      This technique is not recommended for killing bacteria inside a living person, however. Pulping patients is a practice generally frowned upon by the medical profession.

      The few gees that a heal

    • This is why I've invested in the manufacturer of the Barf-A-Whirl carnival ride and the outstanding 3600 rpm Ferris Wheel.
  • Artificial Gravity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kippy (416183) on Monday December 01, 2003 @01:09PM (#7600591)
    What I would like to know is why more research isn't being done on artificial gravity. So many of the health problems encountered in LEO gravity cound be sidestepped if you just spin the damn craft.

    I would love to know why some of the effort being spent on watching things get sick in 0g isn't being directed to something as simple as spinning a glorified beer keg in orbit with some mice in it.

    Can someone tell me why this isn't being done?
    • Maybe it is being done or has already been done. The only info we get comes from some government entity or other. I don't have the tinfoil hat on, but who knows what's up there...honestly.
    • Actually, it is. Forgive me for not recalling the link, and possibly being wrong about the nation involved, but I believe Japan has provided a small rotating cylinder for the ISS to perform low-G experiments.

      It might not sound too high-tech, but I believe it took some excellent and delicate engineering to keep the thing perfectly balanced while allowing internal objects to move about freely.

      Quite a bit is already known about using rotating rings to produce AG, including the fact that it takes a very long

    • What I would like to know is why more research isn't being done on artificial gravity. So many of the health problems encountered in LEO gravity cound be sidestepped if you just spin the damn craft.

      Coriolis forces and differential gravity. In order for you to not get dizzy from simply standing up, a spinning habitat with a 1G environment needs to be almost a mile in diameter.
      • Fair enough. What about .5G or .3G? Is there an easy to compute formula for diamater of a craft and "gravity"? Partial gravity might be enough to counter a lot of the health problems.

    • What I would like to know is why more research isn't being done on artificial gravity. So many of the health problems encountered in LEO gravity cound be sidestepped if you just spin the damn craft.

      Because the craft has to be large enough that it can spin at less than (IIRC) 3RPM and still produce significant gravity. Extended duration spin rates greater than that level produce noticeable nausea and balance problems in 90% of the population. In addition, spinning the craft complicates docking, adds weir

    • Can someone tell me why this isn't being done?
      Forgot to say above: Another reason for the lack of fractional gee biology research is that Congress has a rabid hatred of anything that smells of NASA trying to get to Mars. If a project gets associated with being a potentially useful technology to get men to Mars, Congress kills it as fast as they can. (cf Transhab.) The Centrifuge Accommodation Module that I discuss above is a Japanese project.
      • ... Congress has a rabid hatred of anything that smells of NASA trying to get to Mars.
        Are you suggesting that there is a giant U.S. Government conspiracy to keep NASA from sending humans to Mars? No offense, but that sounds a little too far fetched.
        • Are you suggesting that there is a giant U.S. Government conspiracy to keep NASA from sending humans to Mars? No offense, but that sounds a little too far fetched.

          Did I say "U.S. Goverment", no, I said "Congress". And while it may seem far fetched, it's the stone cold truth. (They have even written language into several budget bills specifically forbidding NASA spending discretionary monies on projects designed to further the progress of a manned landing effort.) Look up the sad tale of Transhab.

  • an experiment with brewer's yeast gets sent up on a Russian Progress rocket to the Space Station next year

    Next slashdot article:
    Germans initiate a new space program, volunteer additional funding for the ISS.
  • Let's not forget these yeast are going to experience, what is it, 6.5 G's on launch? That's not the normal condition for yeast, so let's hope the control group gets some supergravity to make sure that it's really microgravity at work.
  • by Mothgoul (702719)
    If you could initiate negative g's, what would happen to the yeast? Sour beer?
  • energy? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    prolly because they don't have to waste so much
    energy crawling around and can concentrate
    more on reproducing (energy wise ...).

    prolly all da cell functions are also
    more efficient because 70-90% of a cell
    is water and in mcrogravity the molecules
    are better "lubricated" / less friction ...

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