Microbial Monitoring in the EDEN-ISS Greenhouse, a Mobile Test Facility in Antarctica
Jana Fahrion  1, 2@  , Carina Fink  1  , Paul Zabel  3  , Daniel Schubert  3  , Kristina Beblo-Vranesevic  1  , Christine Hellweg  1  , Bernhard Eikmanns  2  , Petra Rettberg  1  
1 : DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine
Köln -  Germany
2 : Ulm University
Ulm -  Germany
3 : DLR Institute of Space Systems
Bremen -  Germany

The EDEN-ISS container is a mobile test facility in Antarctica used to investigate new plant cultivation techniques for future space programs. Manned missions to Mars are already planned and still need a reliable food production system.

The EDEN-ISS container was used from January 2018 to December 2018 for fresh food production for the overwintering Neumayer III crew. During the nine month operation time, samples from the different plants, from the nutrition solution of the planting system and from diverse surfaces within different areas of the container were taken (greenhouse, service section, cold porch). Quantity as well as diversity of microorganisms were examined. The microbial burden on different surfaces in the container and on the plant samples was generally lower than expected. In case of the latter, microbial quantities were in a range from 100 to 10,000 colony forming units (CFU) per gram plant material. Compared to purchased plants from German groceries, the produce hosted much more microorganisms. The EDEN-ISS plant samples showed mainly fungi and a few, most probably harmless bacteria. The CFU/mL in the nutrition solutions increased constantly over time but never reached critical values. The surface sampled revealed high differences in the microbial burden between the greenhouse part of the container and the service section. However, the numbers of CFU found in the planted greenhouse were still not critical. For identification, 16S rDNA of isolated bacteria was sequenced. The most abundant phyla were Firmicutes, Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria. These phyla all include plant- and human-associated bacterial species.

In general, there is a low risk of hazard due to microbial contamination according to the results of this study.

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