The number of bacteria and fungus that live among us is increasing, and low-gravity situations like the International Space Station are no exception (ISS). Researchers from the United States and India collaborated with NASA to uncover four types of bacteria (Unknown Microbes) that reside in various locations on the International Space Station, three of which were previously unknown.
In 2015 and 2016, three of the four strains were isolated: one was discovered in an upper panel of an ISS research station, the second was discovered in the Dome, the third was discovered on the surface of the dining room table, and the fourth was discovered in an old HEPA filter returned to Earth in 2011.
All four strains of the unknown microbes are members of a family of bacteria found in soil and freshwater that aid in nitrogen fixation, plant growth, and the control of plant diseases. Basically, if you’re growing something, you’ll want to have this bacteria.
You might be curious as to what those soil microbes were up while in space. The answer is that astronauts on the space station have been growing small amounts of food for years, so finding plant-related microbes on board is not surprising.