Fluorescence image of a bacterial biofilm (Acinetobacter radioresistens on stainless steel) Green: living bacteria, red: damaged bacteria; Source: K. Siems (DLR).
Due to the current pandemic situation, DLR scientists also have to replan their microbiology work: The first part of the last important test for the BIOFILMS space experiment has now been successfully performed at the aerospace medical research facility :envihab of the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne instead of the Biotechnology Space Support Center in Switzerland. The Experiment Sequence Test of the planned ISS BIOFILM space experiment has now taken place in the astrobiological laboratories of the institute and prepares for the tests of antimicrobial metal surfaces under space conditions, which are planned for the Columbus module of the International Space Station. The BIOFILMS experiment is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is carried out in cooperation with the Chair of Functional Materials at Saarland University and the Working Group for Aerospace Microbiology at DLR. The test will check the experiment hardware, the suitability of the bacteria and the complete mission sequence, so that nothing stands in the way of the flight into space with mission SpX22, planned for May 2021.
Assembly of BIOFILMS space hardware under sterile conditions. To enable all BIOFILMS partners involved to participate in the test, a webcam was attached to the sterile bench (left in the picture) to broadcast the test live via video.
Project leader Professor Dr. Ralf Möller and experiment coordinator Katharina Siems prepared the microbiological part of the test: The bacterial species Staphylococcus capitis, Acinetobacter radioresistens and Cupriavidus metallidurans were filled into the hardware in order to test various laser-structured metal surfaces for their antimicrobial effect. The hardware was then shipped to the manufacturer (Kayser Italia) in Italy, where the hardware is again subjected to initial tests in special containers. If this test is passed, the hardware will be sent to the Biotechnology Space Support Center in Switzerland to simulate the experiment as it will take place on the ISS. In mid-December, the hardware will then return to DLR so that the scientists can analyze biofilms and antimicrobial surfaces. This completes the final test on the way to the space experiment.
The BIOFILMS team at DLR (from left): Andrea Schröder, Erika Muratov, Stella Koch und Katharina Siems.