Genomic and Functional Characterization of Enterococcus faecalis Isolates Recovered From the International Space Station and Their Potential for Pathogenicity

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is a multidrug resistant, opportunistic human pathogen and a leading cause of hospital acquired infections. Recently, isolates have been recovered from the air and surfaces onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Pangenomic and functional analyses were carried out to assess their potential impact on astronaut health. Genomes of each ISS isolate, and both clinical and commensal reference strains, were evaluated for their core and unique gene content, acquired antibiotic resistance genes, phage, plasmid content, and virulence traits. In order to determine their potential survival when outside of the human host, isolates were also challenged with three weeks of desiccation at 30% relative humidity. Finally, pathogenicity of the ISS strains was evaluated in the model organism At the culmination of this study, there were no defining signatures that separated known pathogenic strains from the more commensal phenotypes using the currently available resources. As a result, the current reliance on database information alone must be shifted to experimentally evaluated genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of clinically relevant microorganisms.

Last updated on 01/31/2021