This month we are highlighting a new project designed primarily to increase public awareness of microbes in built environments. This is Project MERCCURI, also known as “Microbes in Spaaaace!” This research is being conducted in collaboration with The Science Cheerleaders, Scistarter.com, Nanoracks, and Space Florida. There are three components to this project:
The Space Station (ISS) Microbiome
Just like it sounds, the astronauts on the ISS will take surface samples for a 16S analysis of who is living on the space station.
Swabbing Sports and Space Events
This portion of the project, largely managed by Science Cheerleaders, will involve collecting 2000 samples from sport and space fans around the country. The cheerleaders will lead collections of cell phone and shoe samples which will be processed by the Earth Microbiome Project and related to a previous work, Home Microbiome Study.
A microbial growth competition will take place on the ISS. A subset of samples collected at public events will be cultured at UC Davis and the “best” microbe from each environment will be sent to the ISS for a “microbial playoffs” competition. A duplicate of this experiment will be conducted on earth and the results compared.