Investigation into Simulated Microgravity Techniques Used to Study Biofilm Growth



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51st International Conference on Environmental Systems


Bacterial growth in liquid media in microgravity conditions is not well understood. Trends such as a shortened lag phase, longer log phase, slower growth rate, and a higher final population concentration have been noted but the underlying cause remains unclear. At the single cell level, it is predicted that bacteria are less gravity-sensitive than larger species. The effects on their immediate environment, including the lack of cell settlement and slower mass transfer of nutrients due to lack of density driven convection, could help explain the trends. Ground-based spaceflight analogs, or simulated microgravity devices, are often employed to achieve different attributes of weightlessness to study effects on bacterial growth. Though these technologies could isolate gravity�s role in various biological processes, they cannot replicate all its effects and underlying mechanisms. Hence, interpretation of results could be misleading, even if similar to spaceflight. In this study two common simulated microgravity devices were investigated to determine whether they could simulate relevant microgravity conditions for bacterial growth. A bioreactor, the high aspect ratio vessel (HARV), was used with dyes of different density mounted on a random positioning machine (RP machine) or a rotating wall vessel (RWV). The RP machine displayed higher mixing rates than the RWV. The RWV was further tested at different rotations per minute (RPM). The range to minimize effects of density driven convection (low speeds) or centrifugal forces (high speeds) was between a range of 15-20 RPM. These results will help inform the selection of simulated microgravity device as well as interpretation of subsequent biofilm growth results.


Angie Diaz, Amentum, US
Wenyan Li, Amentum, US
Tesia Irwin, The Bionetics Corporation, US
Aubrie O'Rourke, NASA, US
Luz Calle, NASA, US
Mary Hummerick, Amentum, US
Christina Khodadad, Amentum, US
Jonathan Gleeson, The Bionetics Corporation, US
Michael Callahan, NASA, US
ICES303: Physio-Chemical Life Support- Water Recovery & Management Systems- Technology and Process Development
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


Microgravity, Simulated, Biofilm, HARV, Density, Mass Transfer, Nutrient, Ersatz