Explore Food Safety Research
By Jim Core
June 28, 2001
Helping humans establish bases on the
moon or explore the cold surface of Mars could result from cooperative research
between scientists with the Agricultural
Research Service and the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration.
NASA is interested in developing practical and economical life support
systems for long-duration space missions. The natural function of crop plants
could be used on such missions to produce food, purify water, regenerate
oxygen, remove undesirable components of the air and process waste materials,
according to Anabelle Matos, research microbiologist with ARS
Eastern Regional Research Center,
Matos is working on a collaborative research project with Jay L. Garland,
the program leader and lead microbial ecologist of NASAs
Advanced Life Support (ALS)
program at the Kennedy Space Center in
Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA wants to control the spread of potentially pathogenic
microorganisms in closed environments during space exploration missions.
Matos came to ERRC in 1999 after eight years with the NASA ALS program,
where she studied how to make long-duration space missions feasible.
Specifically, she concentrated on controlling the microbial pathogen
Pseudomonas areruginosa by using microbial competition, a form of
biological control. This pathogen has been isolated from previous NASA missions
and presents potential problems for future space missions.
Matos works with lead scientist William F. Fett and colleagues Gerald
Sapers, Ching-Hsing Liao and Dike Ukuku in the ERRCs
Plant Science and Technology Research
Unit. Matos current research involves using competitive
exclusion, a biological control approach, to develop treatments that
suppress the growth of foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella and E.
coli O157:H7, on alfalfa sprouts. Scientists explain it as using good
microorganisms to fight bad microorganisms.
Today, Matos will speak for the second consecutive year at the Kennedy Space
Centers Spaceflight and Life Sciences
Training Program (SLSTP) about the collaboration. SLSTP is an intensive,
six-week program for undergraduate college students interested in learning how
to successfully design and conduct biological research and operations in space.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.