Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Penicillium rubens Biofilms Formed in Space on Seven Different Materials – Biomass, Surface Area, and Thickness Comparisons With Respect to Earth Controls Public Deposited

  • Fungal Biofilms have been found on spacecraft, posing a health hazard and resulting in decreased lifespan of vital spacecraft equipment. To examine biofilm formation in space, seven spacecraft and nosocomial relevant materials were examined in 10, 15, and 20 day incubation times both on the ground and on the ISS to characterize Penicillium rubens biofilm morphology and formation. MIT Nanograss, one of the seven materials tested, is a silicon wafer treated to increase hydrophobicity and is examined as a potential antimicrobial material. No consistent qualitative morphological trends were observed between the samples, however, quantitative differences in biofilm growth were observed with little to no biofilm formation on Nanograss and increased biofilm growth observed on titanium alloy, both in space and on Earth. The cause behind the changes in biofilm growth on these two materials is unclear, and further investigation into the effect of material properties on biofilm growth is warranted. A decrease in biofilm formation at the day 20 incubation time was an observed trend in three cases and could potentially be due to lack of nutrients. Examination of P. rubens gene expression in microgravity compared to Earth gravity is an appropriate next step in understanding fungal biofilm formation in space as well as continued studies on potential biofilm resistant materials such as Nanograss.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-04-07
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Last Modified
  • 2023-04-17
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