Mutant Germs a Real Killer for Space Tourism

Okay, so mutant germs and space tourism don’t really have too much in common. But you should still get ready for some real-life science fiction that has to do with space travel: when scientists sent salmonella up on a space shuttle, they found that it killed mice more quickly than it did on earth. And when the salmonella got back on terra firma, researchers discovered that 167 genes had changed in the space-traveling salmonella. And it took about one-third of the new, mutant salmonella to kill half the mice as regular salmonella.

The Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at Arizona State University doesn’t want you to panic, and is taking a positive spin on the whole gene-mutation situation. “Learning more about changes in germs has the potential to lead to novel new countermeasures for infectious disease,” gushes associate professor Cheryl Nickerson. And novel new measures for biological warfare, if you ask me. And has anyone here seen Outbreak? And what’s happening to the genes inside the astronauts? Anyone remember Pod People? Genes are mutating, people!

The Associated Press’ article has a lot of intriguing information, so if you’re curious about the science of it all, head there. As for me, I like the drama of the fear factor.