Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, 96:227 | Cite as

The response of Cupriavidus metallidurans CH34 to spaceflight in the international space station

  • Natalie LeysEmail author
  • Sarah Baatout
  • Caroline Rosier
  • Annik Dams
  • Catherine s’Heeren
  • Ruddy Wattiez
  • Max Mergeay
Original Paper


The survival and behavior of Cupriavidus metallidurans strain CH34 were tested in space. In three spaceflight experiments, during three separate visits to the ‘International Space Station’ (ISS), strain CH34 was grown for 10–12 days at ambient temperature on mineral agar medium. Space- and earth-grown cells were compared post-flight by flow cytometry and using 2D-gel protein analysis. Pre-, in- and post-flight incubation conditions and experiment design had a significant impact on the survival and growth of CH34 in space. In the CH34 cells returning from spaceflight, 16 proteins were identified which were present in higher concentration in cells developed in spaceflight conditions. These proteins were involved in a specific response of CH34 to carbon limitation and oxidative stress, and included an acetone carboxylase subunit, fructose biphosphate aldolase, a DNA protection during starvation protein, chaperone protein, universal stress protein, and alkyl hydroperoxide reductase. The reproducible observation of the over-expression of these same proteins in multiple flight experiments, indicated that the CH34 cells could experience a substrate limitation and oxidative stress in spaceflight where cells and substrates are exposed to lower levels of gravity and higher doses of ionizing radiation. Bacterium C. metallidurans CH34 was able to grow normally under spaceflight conditions with very minor to no effects on cell physiology, but nevertheless specifically altered the expression of a few proteins in response to the environmental changes.


Cupriavidus metallidurans CH34 Spaceflight experiments Flow cytometry Proteome analysis 



This work was supported by the European Space Agency ESA/ESTEC through the PRODEX program in collaboration with the Belgian Science Policy through the MESSAGE-1, MESSAGE-2 and BASE projects agreements. The authors are grateful to C. Paillé and C. Lasseur from ESA/ESTEC for support as well as to the astronauts F. De Winne, P. Duque and T. Reiter for care during the flight experiments. R. Wattiez is a Research Associate to FRS-FNRS. Special thanks to the members of our group at SCK•CEN for the help provided during the overnight analysis of space cultures immediately upon their return.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalie Leys
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah Baatout
    • 1
  • Caroline Rosier
    • 2
  • Annik Dams
    • 1
  • Catherine s’Heeren
    • 2
  • Ruddy Wattiez
    • 2
  • Max Mergeay
    • 1
  1. 1.Expert Group Molecular and Cellular BiologyBelgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN)MolBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Proteomics and Protein BiochemistryUniversity of MonsMonsBelgium

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