Metagenomic evaluation of the microbiological burden of a novel gravity-loading countermeasure skinsuit


Challenges facing astronauts will increase as human space flight progresses from periods aboard Earth orbiters to voyages into deep space. Microgravity induces physiological deconditioning, resulting in bone mineral density loss and atrophy of skeletal and postural muscles. We are evaluating a compression suit designed to replicate terrestrial gravity-loading parameters. The skin is under stress from the compressive forces of the suit and we must ensure the garment does not promote skin infections. We will evaluate qualitative, quantitative and temporal aspects of changes to the skin microbiota induced by suit wear on Earth and aboard the International Space Station.


Grice EA & Segre JA. (2011) The skin microbiome. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 9:244-253.


 Waldie JM & Newman DJ. (2011) A gravity loading countermeasure skinsuit. Acta Astronaut. 68:722-730.


Vandenburgh H, Chromiak J, Shansky J, Del Tatto M & Lemaire J (1999) Space travel directly induces skeletal muscle atrophy. FASEB J. 13:1031-1038.


Birchenough GMH, Johannson MEV, Stabler RA, Dalgakiran F, Hansson GC, Wren BW, Luzio JP & Taylor PW (2013) Altered innate defenses in the neonatal gastrointestinal tract in response to colonization by neuropathogenic Escherichia coli. Infect. Immun. 81:3264-3275. (metagenomic methods in host laboratory).


Pavy-le-Traon A, Heer M, Narici MV, Rittweger J & Vernikos J. (2007) From space to Earth: advances in human physiology from 20 years of bed rest studies (1986-2006). Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 101:143-194.

Biological Areas:



Plants, microbes, food and sustainability