Low gravity and inertial effects on the growth of E. coli and B. subtilin in semi-solid media

Melissa A. Kacena, P. E. Leonard, Paul Todd, M. W. Luttges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


Background: Several published experimental results have shown that cultures of suspended bacteria exhibit increased growth in the spaceflight environment. Hypothesis and Methods: To test whether these differences were due to fluid mechanics and not cellular effects, E. coli and B. subtilin were grown on agar cultures under static, agitated, and rotated conditions in the laboratory, and under low-gravity conditions on four Space Shuttle flights. Growth experiments were terminated with glutaraldehyde, and individual cells were counted after quantitative elution from the agar. Results: The spaceflight results, in conjunction with static, rotation, and agitation experiments indicate that E. coli and B. subtilin cultures on agar, unlike their suspension grown counterparts, do not experience heightened final cell concentration when the inertial environment is changed. Conclusions: This finding points to fluid dynamics and extracellular transport phenomena and not cellular dynamics as the most likely cause of previously reported increases in bacterial growth in microgravity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1104-1108
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 22 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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