So you've escaped the bounds of Earth and, like Major Tom, are orbiting in your snug space station. The atmosphere is clear and clean, free from asthma triggering, infecting fungus - space is pure!
Ha! Think again:
One mission of the Microbial Observatory Experiments on the International Space Station is to examine the traits and diversity of fungal isolates, to gain a better understanding of how fungi may adapt to microgravity environments and how this may affect interactions with humans in closed habitats. In the new study, led by Benjamin Knox, a microbiology graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison, scientists compared two isolates of A. fumigatus that were isolated from the International Space Station to reference isolates from earth.Yes folks - it's not just that we're squatting on planet fungus but, when we leave for the stars we'll take those mushrooms with us!
Through in vitro, in vivo, and genetic analyses, the researchers discovered that the isolates recovered from the space station exhibited normal in vitro growth and chemical stress tolerance, and there were no unexpected genetic differences. The strains in space were slightly more lethal in a vertebrate model of invasive disease, but there was nothing to suggest that as a consequence of spending time in space, there were any significant changes to the fungus.
Relax though - there's hallucinogenic lichen!