Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 3, pp 1363–1377 | Cite as

International Space Station conditions alter genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics in Aspergillus nidulans

  • Jillian Romsdahl
  • Adriana Blachowicz
  • Abby J. Chiang
  • Yi-Ming Chiang
  • Sawyer Masonjones
  • Junko Yaegashi
  • Stefanie Countryman
  • Fathi Karouia
  • Markus Kalkum
  • Jason E. Stajich
  • Kasthuri Venkateswaran
  • Clay C. C. WangEmail author
Genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics


The first global genomic, proteomic, and secondary metabolomic characterization of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans following growth onboard the International Space Station (ISS) is reported. The investigation included the A. nidulans wild-type and three mutant strains, two of which were genetically engineered to enhance secondary metabolite production. Whole genome sequencing revealed that ISS conditions altered the A. nidulans genome in specific regions. In strain CW12001, which features overexpression of the secondary metabolite global regulator laeA, ISS conditions induced the loss of the laeA stop codon. Differential expression of proteins involved in stress response, carbohydrate metabolic processes, and secondary metabolite biosynthesis was also observed. ISS conditions significantly decreased prenyl xanthone production in the wild-type strain and increased asperthecin production in LO1362 and CW12001, which are deficient in a major DNA repair mechanism. These data provide valuable insights into the adaptation mechanism of A. nidulans to spacecraft environments.


Aspergillus nidulans International Space Station Genomics Proteomics Metabolomics 



Part of the research described in this publication was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. We would like to thank astronauts Tim Peake, Tim Kopra, and Jeff Williams for handling the samples aboard the ISS, the Implementation Team at NASA Ames Research Center, and BioServe Space Technologies for coordinating this effort. © 2018 California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged.

Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement by the U.S. Government or the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.

Author contributions

JR drafted the manuscript, contributed to sample processing, and was responsible for data analysis and interpretation. AB contributed to sample processing and data interpretation. AC and MK conducted protein sample processing, LC/MS analyses, and proteome data processing. YC contributed to secondary metabolic analysis and interpretation. SM contributed to variant analysis. JY generated the CW12001 strain. SC was responsible for sample integration into flight hardware. FK was responsible for project implementation and generating metadata from the ISS. JS contributed to genome data processing and variant analysis. KV and CW designed the study, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research was funded by a 2012 Space Biology NNH12ZTT001N grant nos. 19-12829-26 under Task Order NNN13D111T awarded to CW and KV, which also funded JR and AB.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2018_9525_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (35.2 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 36056 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jillian Romsdahl
    • 1
  • Adriana Blachowicz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Abby J. Chiang
    • 3
  • Yi-Ming Chiang
    • 1
  • Sawyer Masonjones
    • 4
  • Junko Yaegashi
    • 1
  • Stefanie Countryman
    • 5
  • Fathi Karouia
    • 6
    • 7
  • Markus Kalkum
    • 3
  • Jason E. Stajich
    • 4
  • Kasthuri Venkateswaran
    • 2
  • Clay C. C. Wang
    • 1
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of PharmacyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group, Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Molecular Imaging and TherapyBeckman Research Institute of City of HopeDuarteUSA
  4. 4.Department of Microbiology & Plant Pathology and Institute of Integrative Genome BiologyUniversity of California-RiversideRiversideUSA
  5. 5.BioServe Space TechnologiesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  6. 6.Space Biosciences DivisionNASA Ames Research CenterMountain ViewUSA
  7. 7.Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, School of PharmacyUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  8. 8.Department of Chemistry, College of Letters, Arts, and SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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