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Germs Taken Into Space May Come Back Deadlier

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-what-we-need-down-here dept.

Biotech 137

westlake writes "Sounds like the plot for a B-movie, doesn't it? Germs go into space and come back stronger and deadlier than ever. Except, it really happened. In a medical experiment, salmonella carried about the space shuttle in the fall of 2006 proved far more lethal to lab mice than their earth-bound source. 90% dead vs. 60% dead in twenty-six days, with half the mice dying at 1/3 the oral dose. Apparently 167 genes in the space-evolved strain had changed. The likely cause: In microgravity the force of fluids passing over the cells is low, similar to conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, and the cells adapted quickly to the new environment."

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So clearly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20741633)

We need to take bacteria to higher gravity situations. Then the new bacteria will be weaker, and easier to kill.

Re:So clearly... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20741653)

Or breed better mice.

Re:So clearly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20744557)

God this made me laugh hard. Jack Handy? Is that you?

conditions outside the body (5, Interesting)

mrvan (973822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741677)

TFS states that the deadliness is bacause the germs were adapter better to the conditions inside the body, so kill lab mice faster. Outside the lab, these germs will have to pass from host to host, and presumable in between the hosts conditions will be less like microgravity. SO, they might be deadlier, but with less rate of infection. A deadlier disease with lower infection rate might actually be less of a risk: hosts die more quickly and not enough new hosts get infected.

Also: if the new germs are really more well-adapted (ic better at multiplying and spreading), wouldn't they have evolved like that on earth? Especially since the evolutionary step is apparently small enough to be attained by a limited colony in a very limited time?

Re:conditions outside the body (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742013)

A deadlier disease with lower infection rate might actually be less of a risk: hosts die more quickly and not enough new hosts get infected.
As long as it's you who gets infected and not me, I agree. ;)

Re:conditions outside the body (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742951)

A deadlier disease with lower infection rate might actually be less of a risk: hosts die more quickly and not enough new hosts get infected.
As long as it's you who gets infected and not me, I agree. ;)
Both you and the parent are not paying attention to the true significance of this story. What would happen if bacteria was on a satellite for years and then came back to the Earth? Everybody has always assumed that it was meteors or bioweapons lab leaks that were causing zombie outbreaks, but it could just as easily be supergerms that are so highly evolved that they can control the dead!

Isn't it entirely probable, nay likely even that an old Soviet bioweapons satellite is going to crash sometime with germs that will reanimate the dead on a large scale?

Re:conditions outside the body (2, Insightful)

RubberDogBone (851604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744285)

It's only in fiction that the results of a satellite crash or bioweapon accident or radiation produces zombies or successful mutants who look really weird but still manage to carry a mean chainsaw.

Mutation tends to be more random than not, so you are likely to get organisms that cannot actually DO anything useful (assuming making zombies is useful) or lack any particular advantage over the original species. In fact they may be sterile or weakened.

Irradiated flesh doesn't turn into the Hulk or glow or become self-intelligent. No. It just dies.

As for this particular result of super germs, this is nothing that regular evolution could not have tried. Evolution tries many paths. Not all of them succeed. The ones that don't, die off. In this case, it sounds like the germ is more effective at killing its host animal. The ideal germ wouldn't do that. Rather it would exploit its host to spread itself to other hosts.

Suppose the germ developed a version of itself that was 100% lethal and then killed its own host before the host could spread it. Well the germ dies too, doesn't it? That evolutionary path might be more efficient but it also effectively erases itself. Nature tends to prune out such extremes.

Re:conditions outside the body (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20744549)

Mutation tends to be more random than not, so you are likely to get organisms that cannot actually DO anything useful (assuming making zombies is useful) or lack any particular advantage over the original species. In fact they may be sterile or weakened.

Irradiated flesh doesn't turn into the Hulk or glow or become self-intelligent. No. It just dies
I have several thousand volumes of books (comic books) that contradict you. Who should I believe, some Nobel prize winning biologist who has only written a couple dozen scientific papers in his life (and only a couple dealing with radiation) or Stan Lee who has published hundreds of volumes dealing with the biological and social effects of radiation?

Suppose the germ developed a version of itself that was 100% lethal and then killed its own host before the host could spread it. Well the germ dies too, doesn't it?
Not if it reanimates the dead! Did you miss that part? These germs are going to be so deadly that they take you past 'dead' and bring you to 'undead.' You might even say that they are undeadly! The only thing that they need to survive is a highly dense energy source that their host body could consume--maybe something like the brains of unsuspecting victims.

Re:conditions outside the body (0, Troll)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744743)

Sahib, kindly to be shutting please the jolly fucking up, you unfunny chappie.

Re:conditions outside the body (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745803)

Evolution tries many paths. Not all of them succeed. The ones that don't, die off.


You must be new here. What about politicians, lawyers and such ? When can I expect them to die off ?

Re:conditions outside the body (1)

zacronos (937891) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746479)

Suppose the germ developed a version of itself that was 100% lethal and then killed its own host before the host could spread it. Well the germ dies too, doesn't it?

No, the germs don't necessarily die. There are plenty of diseases that can be transmitted from a dead body. That's how humans get mad cow disease from eating beef, for example.

Now, like the GP poster said, if germs actually evolved the ability to control the dead, they could animate the dead body to actively seek out new, live hosts. This would be a very effective trait, and it would be naive and irresponsible to assume such a thing cannot happen.

Re:conditions outside the body (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746565)

This would be a very effective trait, and it would be naive and irresponsible to assume such a thing cannot happen.
Especially after that well documented Pennsylvania incident in the 60s.

Re:conditions outside the body (1)

steveaustin1971 (1094329) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745321)

I for one, welcome our new virus created zombie overlords...

Re:conditions outside the body (5, Interesting)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742325)

"Also: if the new germs are really more well-adapted (ic better at multiplying and spreading), wouldn't they have evolved like that on earth? Especially since the evolutionary step is apparently small enough to be attained by a limited colony in a very limited time?"

Not necessarily. Evolution is like a simple hill-climbing algorithm in computer programming. It blindly heads in any upward direction without any way of knowing if it will get stuck at the top of a small hill when there is a much bigger hill right next to it. It is unnatural for it to go back downhill (to weaken itself) on purpose to look for bigger hills to climb. But changes to the environment distort the landscape, in some cases turning hills into valleys and forcing life to climb back up or die out.

So most likely the germs had their little hill turned upside down in micro-gravity and were forced to climb up to the top of a new one. Their landscape got turned upside down again when they came back down to Earth, and they ended up finding a bigger hill than the one they started on.

Re:conditions outside the body (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743561)

interesting way of looking at it.

and i can see now why people want to apply evolution to economics. much the same stuff is going on there.
but unlike evolution, there are some that are willing to take a short-time weakening based on the prospects of long term victory.

Re:conditions outside the body (3, Funny)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743793)

I think you just hit on th very idea of foresight. It's one of those things that's supposed to separate the higher mammals from things like bacteria and from natural processes like evolution, after all.

That is, unless someone believes in sentient bacteria or a divine hand of an intelligent God/gods guiding evolution. Anything left to chance and trial will ultimately only rarely see a trade of a short-term negative for a long-term positive, because it would have to happen by chance and without conscious effort.

Re:conditions outside the body (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744181)

Evolution is like a simple hill-climbing algorithm in computer programming. It blindly heads in any upward direction without any way of knowing if it will get stuck at the top of a small hill when there is a much bigger hill right next to it. It is unnatural for it to go back downhill (to weaken itself) on purpose to look for bigger hills to climb.

Perhaps evolution should upgrade to simulated annealing [wikipedia.org] instead of simple hill climbing and greedy algorithms.

Re:conditions outside the body (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744539)

I think the problem is that it's difficult to tell which way is uphill until some of the modifications die off (which may not be immediate). Like software genetic algorithms, I think random mutations are nature's answer. Most random mutations knock organisms back down the hill, but every now and then they create a sub-species that starts climbing a different hill.

Re:conditions outside the body (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744917)

True, but even without mutation there will be genetic diversity within the population. If an individual animal's a point on a surface, the species is a sort of blob or patch.

Exactly, What's More (2, Interesting)

BlackGriffen (521856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746371)

Because the fitness landscape for any individual organism must include the effects of the other members of his species more interesting things can occur. The worst part is that either effect can occur - the main population can either deepen the well or make it more shallow. In the former case you have a strong tendency towards monoculture even on non-optimum points - think Windows. In the latter case the organism will tend to "fill up" the local minimum and eventually, population constraints being favorable, spill over into any nearby lower areas. Thus, either creating a new species that splits off or out-competes its parent species. The nice part about this model is that it offers another way for apparently discontinuous jumps to appear in the fossil record even when there is no evidence for similarly discontinuous changes in the environment.

Organisms Change Randomly (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20744191)

Evolution does not climb hills to reach a preferred state. Sometimes it backtracks downhill to find an old working state. It may climb to the other side of the hill, because that's where the sunshine is. Evolution means that a specific organism is fit to live under the current conditions.

Organisms aquire their specific survival skills by DNA mutation or recombination, or absorbing other organisms (see mitochodrion). Evolution theory does not explain why favorable changes happen; they are just "happy accidents".

People have been able to force DNA recombination through selective breeding. Darwin gave dogs as an example. Today, we might do the same to weaken diseases (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/10/4/l_104_01.html [pbs.org] Cholera: Domesticating Disease).

Re:conditions outside the body (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20745817)

Evolution doesn't have "directions" asshat. Germs don't evolve "uphill" towards a deadlier state, because that wouldn't necessarily give them any advantage. It's much more random than you think.

Amen to that (4, Interesting)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742393)

Outside the lab, these germs will have to pass from host to host [...] less rate of infection. A deadlier disease with lower infection rate might actually be less of a risk: hosts die more quickly and not enough new hosts get infected.


This is something like Rule n1 when dealing with epidemiology.
And something that is systematically neglected when the media try to instill mass hysteria about some latest bug.

Compare :
- Plague : kills, but slowly, and very good at transmission - did decimate population.
- Spanish flu : was deadly, but did spread very easily (specially at a post-war time with limited availability of medical means) - did kill quite a few people.

With :
- Ebola : violently deadly in an almost "B movie gore"-style, but sucks at transmission (kills to fast. The virus has almost no time to leave the host before killing it) - never became a widespread disease.
- Avian flu : it was severe in the handful few people who caught it (although one may contest that those people were mostly in developing country and thus had limited access to medical means) BUT it's far from effecient when it comes to transmission (it's a birds' disease, damn it) one must almost live everyday with and almost sleep with chickens to catch it - hasn't been epidemic yet, and won't be, at least not until it mixes with human viruses (not very likely to happen quickly on a large scale).
- Mad cow disease : kills slowly (brain slowly becomes a sponge) but has one of the most improbable mecanism of transmission (one must eat brain or brain derivative) - never was a widespread disease (at least outside cannibal communities).

And same will happen with lysteria-from-outer-space : Yes, it kills mice efficiently. But basically it has changed. It has traded characteristics that where good in surviving on earth, for characteristic that are good for microgravity, and that happen to be good for the intestine too. Thus it will probably completely suck at propagating.

Re:Amen to that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20744185)

Ahh, mad cow transmission is not as improbable as you might think -- that is, if you know how the big boys make their burgers...

Re:conditions outside the body (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742753)

The way I read it is that salmonella that's been raised on petrie dishes for who knows how many generations is poorly adapted to life inside the GI tract, but put it up in space for a bit, under conditions that are more like the intestine than a petrie dish and the bacteria will gain back some of it's adaptation to that environment.

Not really surprising, and unlikely to apply for all microorganisms.

"Space Bugs are Deadlier!" makes a better headline though.

Re:conditions outside the body (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742879)

The researchers found 167 genes had changed in the salmonella that went to space.

Why?

"That's the 64 million dollar question," Nickerson said. "We do not know with 100 percent certainty what the mechanism is of space flight that's inducing these changes."

However, they think it's a force called fluid shear.
TFA talks about fluid shear while many other articles http://news.google.com/news?q=space+biofilm [google.com] mention that in space, the bacteria forms a biofilm.

More importantly, it seems like every other article answers the "64 million dollar question." The answer:

The researchers' experiment revealed that a genetic switch called "Hfq," which may control more than 160 genes in S. typhimurium, turns on in space and causes S. typhimurium to become three times more virulent than on the Earth's surface.
I'm not really sure why this AP article is so deficient.

Re:conditions outside the body (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20745813)

"SO, they might be deadlier, but with less rate of infection. A deadlier disease with lower infection rate might actually be less of a risk: hosts die more quickly and not enough new hosts get infected."

Exactly! Viruses tend to evolve to become *less* virulent over time. For example, a mild cold that doesn't keep you home in bed has a much better chance of spreading than say, Ebola, which produces immediate and violent symptoms. A modern day example of this type of evolution is Syphilis. The Syphilis of today is far different (less deadly) than the version that existed in Ancient Rome.

While in this case it was Salmonella and not a virus, I still believe the same principles should be true. A "deadlier" version of the organism is probably less contagious, and will thus be out-competed by the less deadly forms that are the way they are because of countless years of evolution.

THE DUGGAR FAMILY IS COMING TO KICK YOUR A$$ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20741681)

All seventeen of 'em! [duggarfamily.com]
  • Joshua
  • Jana & John-David (twins)
  • Jill
  • Jessa
  • Jinger
  • Joseph
  • Josiah
  • Joy-Anna
  • Jedidiah & Jeremiah (twins)
  • Jason
  • James
  • Justin
  • Jackson
  • Johannah
  • Jennifer

Re:THE DUGGAR FAMILY IS COMING TO KICK YOUR A$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742683)

  • Xenu

Re:THE DUGGAR FAMILY IS COMING TO KICK YOUR A$$ (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743849)

Call the PP a Troll, Offtopic, whatever, I'm still laughing five minutes after reading it.
Furthermore, I refuse to click on the link for fear of destroying the image I've already made in my mind, I wanna cling to this one.

I, for one... (-1, Redundant)

starkadder (819862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741683)

I, for one, welcome our new superbug overlords.

I know... (3, Funny)

PixelScuba (686633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741691)

This was first documented in 1988 [imdb.com] , but they don't want you to know about it.

Re:I know... (0, Redundant)

click2005 (921437) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741835)

It happened in 1971 too. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066769/ [imdb.com]

Re:I know... (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741917)

Well then, no biggie! We should all be o.k. if we keep our blood outside of the normal PH balance.

Re:I know... (2, Informative)

BiloxiGeek (872377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741845)

Re:I know... (2, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745137)

I'll raise you: 1953 [imdb.com]

Blob... (1)

PixelScuba (686633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745369)

Ah, but here is where my superior Blobonian knowledge comes into play... The original 1958 'The Blob', starring legendary Steve McQueen, features an extra terrestrial creature crashing to Earth in a meteorite. The creature is of unknown origin and is presumed to be not of this world. In the 1988 remake 'The Blob' attempts to create a history to the blob. As the crash site is quarantined by government agents, it is realized that the Blob is not of alien origin... but of Human, having been created as a biological weapon and sent into space for testing. Unfortunately for the small town, it becomes a living organism and consumes organic material at an alarming rate... showing signs of intelligence. I hope my Blobian expertise has helped shed light onto this subject as well as Blob history and Blob knowledge. Blob.

Vonnegut (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741699)

he said the whole point of life is to create germs tough enough to make it through space on a rock. i think he would have chuckled at this.

Contact the Nigger Jena 6 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20741715)

Mychal Bell -- currently in prison -- son of Melissa Sue Bell -- 130 Bell Road Jena, LA 71342 former phone number 318-992-5881 (disconnected for non- payment)

Robert Bailey, Jr -- son of Robert Bailey, Sr and Caseptla Bailey -- 1895 Berlin St PO Box 1895 Jena, LA 71342

Carwin Jones -- relation of Tina Jones -- 726 W Thorla St Jena LA 71342 318- 992-1143 (ACTIVE)

Bryant Purvis -- son of Tina Jones -- 726 W Thorla St Jena LA 71342 318-992- 1143 (ACTIVE) Mr Purvis himself: (318) 992-4690 (ACTIVE)

Theo Shaw -- 112 HC 60 BOX 112 JENA, LA 71342

Mutations (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741781)

Another thing to consider: germs in space will be able to mutate repeatedly before re-introduction to the general population. This means that the defensive systems that normally adapt to handle them as the mutations arise (think: each strain of the common cold that ends up "going around" your local school/business) don't get a chance until the germ population is sizeable and has the mutated traits spread throughout.

What's the policy for de-bugging astronauts, anyway?

Re:Mutations (2, Funny)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741895)

What's the policy for de-bugging astronauts, anyway?

Same as any other de-bug problem. Blame Microsoft and hope for a patch.

But seriously... I know there's some post flight isolation probably accompanied by standard physicals and rehabilitation for those that underwent extended stays in space. My guess is they're relatively thorough, but if if the astronauts are harboring something that isn't detected and they don't show any symptoms it could be a "bad thing." With all the isolation and health checks before, during, and after though, it's probably not a terrible risk. Or at least it's been fairly safe so far.

Re:Mutations (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745211)

Are the astronauts wearing protective gear when working with bacterial experiments? I can't recall ever reading this, or seeing a photo . . .

Re:Mutations (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747279)

The transporter references the original pattern and removes anything anomalous. Pretty standard stuff, we all know this.

No immune system = no training against one, too ! (4, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742695)

This means that the defensive systems that normally adapt to handle them as the mutations arise (think: each strain of the common cold that ends up "going around" your local school/business) don't get a chance until the germ population is sizeable and has the mutated traits spread throughout.


It works the other way too. The outer-space-bacteria has lived and mutated in an environment without or with very few defensive system, to which it normally needs to adapt to handle them and manage to survive and proliferate. Thus the bacteria doesn't get a chance to keep it's knowledge in surviving when it come back to earth.

It's most likely to get pwnd by the first antibody or marcophage it encounters.

This lysteria is an exception because the microgravity environment it was evolving in was actually *closer* to the target environment (human gut) that the places where it usually lives. And then, as the first-poster pointed out, you have a bacteria that is quick to kill lab mice, but will probably suck at transmission because it has traded away its capacity to survive in normal environment.

People are usually marvelled at the incerdible diversity that is brought by evolution. But there's another possible point of view. Whenever some species specialize into something, it's actually losing functions : at least it is losing its polyvalence and ability to survive in diverse environment.
One may consider the human as the pinnacle of evolution given all what we managed to achieve. Or we may consider the humans as a profoundly degenerate species, that has lost its ability to survive in most environment. that is hugely dependent on resources it can't produce anymore but must hunt. We've become so much fragile and incapable biologically, that we had to develop some intelligence to be able to circumvent those short comings. As opposed to a bacteria that can just grow and reproduce in a much wider set of environment without needing to grow a pair of arms to be able to do it.
This pessimistic point of view may be useful sometimes to explain or predict some phenomenon :
- like mass exctinctions
- like why the plain simple cockroaches seem to be better at surviving than mighty dinosaurs
- like what will probably happen to the outer-space-mutant-bugs
- like why intelligent design proponents are wrong with their fundamental concept of "irreductible complexity". It's not complexity, it's actually very weird, funny and circonvoluted side effects of something that was initially a simplification.

bizarre love triangle... (-1, Offtopic)

EvilSpudBoy (1159091) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741789)

Apparently the deadly germs were involve in some kind of 'bizarre love triangle.'

Surprised? Don't be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20741809)

Chinese bio sat was NOT all about plant seeds. Nor are their upcoming ones. Biowarefare.

I've gott to wake up... (-1, Offtopic)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741831)

Gotta find something to wake me up... I read that as Germans taken into space may come back deadlier.

Re:I've gott to wake up... (0, Offtopic)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741919)

URL:http://www.thinkgeek.com/caffeine/ Go, and sleep no more!

Well... (1, Funny)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741843)

Apparently 167 genes in the space-evolved strain had changed.
I'm sure that once faith-based initiatives take hold in space (due to the right political appointee) and spaceships become intelligently designed this will no longer be a problem, right?

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742225)

Wait, what?

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

RDW (41497) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742587)

As some of the more accurate reports on this finding have pointed out, the changes were in the expression levels of the genes rather than in their composition, so no need to invoke the Flying Spaghetti Monster on this occasion! Gene expression is always responding to changes in environmental conditions, so it's not at all surprising that spaceflight is going to cause some measurable effects (hopefully in genes that are functionaly relevant to the observed change in phenotype).

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20743091)

Parent should be mod "Funny" not "Troll". JMHO.

Re:Well... (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744097)

Ugh -- critics. Can't please 'em all. I would have thought that all the mess revolving around that last group of "anti-Big-Bang" appointees that were assigned to run NASA would've made this joke somewhat relevant!

You see? viruses are intelligently designed!!! (-1, Flamebait)

master_p (608214) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741883)

This proves that viruses behave very cleverly! and since they don't have a brain, their intelligence must come from somewhere else...

One Giant Virus for Mankind (5, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741909)

The AIDS plague "patient zero" is estimated to have become infected in 1969, the year men returned from the moon.

This plague that has killed millions of people, primarily among homosexual men, perhaps originated in a tiny canister of testosterone-pumped men trapped in a tiny metal can thousands of miles from Earth, with only each other to turn to in conditions of unprecedented stress and lonliness.

Yep, it does sound like the plot from a B movie - by John Waters.

So (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742457)

are you trying to say that Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were gay and caused all this?

Re:One Giant Virus for Mankind (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20743059)

Damn, now I've got problems: On one hand, there have never been humans on the moon, on the other hand they brought AIDS back from there! :-)

Yeah, but no. (3, Informative)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744037)

The first confirmed case was from a 1959 sample of blood plasma. [wikipedia.org] Maybe you can blame Sputnik somehow?

Re:Yeah, but no. (1)

kkwst2 (992504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746699)

Hmm, how carefully did you read that article. It says right there that the diagnosis was questionable since the strain was too similar to later strains. I guess this is implying that it may have been a contaminant?

At any rate, perhaps that makes the moon theory still viable.

Re:One Giant Virus for Mankind (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746811)

Yep, it does sound like a B movie [imdb.com] . Can I get my GNAA membership card now?

Let me be the first person to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20741973)

Ack.. Kryptonite... *dies*

Isn't it obvious? (1)

akkarin (1117245) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741993)

Lab mice are getting weaker!

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744601)

I wonder if there are lab mice out there that get infected with horrible diseases, survive, escape, and get back into the mouse population to pass on their human-lab-test-impervious genes to the rest of the gene pool. Soon we'll have to find some other animal to test on ... or maybe something stronger than salmonella? :P

Emphasis on 'may' here (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 6 years ago | (#20741999)

It does not necessarily follow that since the space-mutated salmonella has a higher mortality rate in space that it will also have a higher mortality rate on Earth. I suspect that the mechanism that allowed for the more deadly strain to thrive in space would be a disadvantage to Earth-bound strains, where the 'fluid shear' effect is higher. Thus, those more potent strains would die.

Of course, there's only one way to find out for sure. I volunteer CmdrTaco.

Re:Emphasis on 'may' here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742175)

It does not mean that these 'super space bugs' will not fare well on earth either. They would need to survive the other ones around them (the non super space bugs) as well as the enviroment. Did they come back better adapted to that? It was a bit light on that. Could something like that happen? Probabbly.

Re:Emphasis on 'may' here (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742819)

It does not necessarily follow that since the space-mutated salmonella has a higher mortality rate in space that it will also have a higher mortality rate on Earth

The earth-bound lab mice were given oral doses of the mutated salmonella - which seemed to thrive in the similar environment of the intestinal tract.

I would personally find it worrying that anything so common and adaptable as salmonella would return so dramatically more lethal after no more than two weeks in space.

Re:Emphasis on 'may' here (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743053)

Actually, it looks like I missed the part about them having brought the strain back from space, and having given it to Earth-bound mice. This is, indeed, an interesting experiment. I wonder if there are other mutagenic factors at work here, other than zero-gravity. Cosmic radiation, for instance.

Re:Emphasis on 'may' here (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743867)

I wonder if there are other mutagenic factors at work here, other than zero-gravity. Cosmic radiation, for instance.

It doesn't really make any difference. All the experiment really shows is that:

1) Grow bacteria
2) Alter environment
3) Change gene expression (via mutation, removal of suppression, whatever biologic mechanism you'd propose)
4) Write grant proposal (the 64 million dollar question - that's one hell of a grant)
5) Profit!

Doing it in space is even way cooler than doing it on the Internet. I smell a patent application. You might even get a free trip to Florida!

Re:Emphasis on 'may' here (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743099)

Well if you had RTFA you 'may' have noticed that the germs were carried into space, returned to Earth, then administered to Earth-bound mice. The ironic thing is that they apparently didn't do the inverse experiment so we don't know how either strain of salmonella affects mice in space.

Space tourists (1)

buttle2000 (1041826) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742047)

What about all the people we've been told that will soon be going for a spin up in Space? Compared you to your usual secrurity delays, getting your laptop out of the bag is going to be nothing compared to quarantine.

Bacteria. (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742079)

Just remember WHO this planet belongs to after all.

I for one welcome our mutated Moneran overlords.

Re:Bacteria. (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746857)

Just remember WHO this planet belongs to after all.

I'm confused. I though the WHO is on the other side of the battle.

Is this it? (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742173)

Is this the Terrible Secret of Space?

Re:Is this the Terrible Secret of Space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742885)

I for one liked it better when we were protected from such knowledge. When push comes to shove ignorance is str^H^H^Hbliss.

Re:Is this the Terrible Secret of Space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20743529)

Ah, yes; nothing like descending the stairs of knowledge.

Re:Is this it? (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742979)

Is this the Terrible Secret of Space?

Umm, no. This is public information. Secrets are the part we don't know.

Re:Is this it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746665)

It was a joke... which either you didn't get, or you got and then told another joke which I didn't get... or maybe I did!!

Does this apply to astronauts too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742361)

It might explain drive-across-the-country-in-diapers-to-beat-somebody-up lady.

Can't they make up their minds? (1)

GuyinVA (707456) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742563)

First they say that germs from space will cause us to get sick. Then they tell us that it's just the ground water http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070921-meteor-peru.html [nationalgeographic.com] . Now they're telling us deadly germs from earth taken to space. Geez....

Let me be the first.... (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742827)

..to welcome our new unaffected by gravity genetically superior overlords!

I have to refer back to this... (1)

gzerphey (1006177) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742839)

I have to refer back to an earlier post of mine. I'm telling you, nature sucks.

Its the only way to be sure. [slashdot.org]

Deadlier? I say- Neutered! (0)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742869)

The likely cause: In microgravity the force of fluids passing over the cells is low, similar to conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, and the cells adapted quickly to the new environment."
Ok.. so the cells adapted to microgravity, and likely LOST the ability to deal with full gravity scenarios..... THUS, on return- they will not be able to function in full gravity.. as their 'evolution' while in space didn't require it...

YES- they may be deadly WHILE in space- as they adapt quicker than the mammals-- but they should be far less deadly on their return

Re:Deadlier? I say- Neutered! (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743697)

Nope the tests on the mice were done on earth. So that throws your theory out the window.

Hail! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20742925)

I, for one, hail our new mutated alien salmonella overlords!

Gamma Rays!!! (1)

shotgunsaint (968677) | more than 6 years ago | (#20742999)

Duh, one germ can turn invisible, one germ can stretch, one germ can catch fire, and one germ is now a rock.

evolution is a lie! (1)

mapmaker (140036) | more than 6 years ago | (#20743449)

The likely cause: In microgravity the force of fluids passing over the cells is low, similar to conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, and the cells adapted quickly to the new environment."

Enough of that blasphemous devil-talk! The reason the germs became deadlier is that they were brought closer to the Intelligent Designer in the Sky. Since He could see them more clearly up there, he was able to design them even better!

So THAT'S what happened with Jason X! (4, Funny)

Fluchs (951011) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744065)

I kept telling people how realistic this movie was!
http://imdb.com/title/tt0211443/ [imdb.com]
"Evil Gets an Upgrade." Man, so ahead of its time.

However (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744431)

Not so fast!

This may be true, but remember that, from the salmonella's point of view, the object isn't to kill its host.

The goal is to reproduce and spread. Therefore I predict this salmonella would quickly evolve back to the slightly more dormant variety, and rather quickly.

The bacteria isn't "winning" by killing it's host faster and faster and faster. This is a disadvantageous mutation from the bacteria's point of view . One needn't worry about it "getting into the wild".

Weaponised virus (1)

paj1234 (234750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744681)

A space-mutated human virus would make an excellent area-denial weapon.

Evilution (2, Funny)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744859)

Apparently 167 genes in the space-evolved strain had changed.

But evolution is impossible! The Kansas school board told me so. This must be another NASA conspiracy like the fake moon landings.

Clarification Please (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746175)

Can anyone clarify the statement about the genes. Are they actually changing (ie, a mutation) or are they simply being selectively expressed or suppressed in response to the conditions?

Surely the article is being sloppy with its wording, yes?

They come out at night. Mostly. (1)

sits69 (1111621) | more than 6 years ago | (#20744959)

Game over, man, GAME OVER!!

Germs (2, Funny)

skeftomai (1057866) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746043)

When I first read that, I thought it said, "Germans Taken Into Space May Come Back Deadlier."

Thank god! (1)

felipekk (1007591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746267)

Apparently 167 genes in the space-evolved strain had changed.
Thank god it wasn't 65535, because then we would have a BIGGER problem!

Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746477)

I almost read this as "Germans taken into space may come back deadlier."

This is... (1)

EddyPearson (901263) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746607)

...the stuff Hollywood flops are made of.

The next terror plot? (1)

Speed Pour (1051122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747435)

Oh my gawd, the scientists just gave another idea to terrorists [slashdot.org] on how to kill us all!

for the clueless or paranoid out there...yes, this is a joke
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