It would seem that the microbes aboard the International Space Station are “smarter” or more “clever” than the bacteria back home on Earth, due to their unusual ability to resist antibiotics by changing shape.
According to Phys.org, scientists from the University of Colorado in Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies had conducted an experiment, hoping to treat common E. coli bacteria strains on the ISS with varied concentrations of the antibiotic gentamicin sulfate. On Earth, this drug is powerful enough to kill the bacteria. But in space, the response was noticeably different, depending on the concentration of the antibiotic. There was, in fact, one instance where the bacteria had 13 times more cells and 73 percent less cell volume, in comparison to an Earthbound control group. Due to this increase in volume and decrease in size, the cultured bacteria was quickly dubbed by the scientists and media alike as “shape-shifting.”