Impact of simulated microgravity on the physiology of the MELiSSA cyanobacterium Limnospira indica PCC8005

Gabriele Ellena, Felice Mastroleo, Jana Fahrion

Research output


The MELiSSA (micro-ecological life support system alternative (MELiSSA) project, led by the European Space Agency (ESA), aims to develop a sustainable life support system for long-duration space missions. In my master's thesis conducted at SCK CEN, my objective was to investigate the effect of simulated microgravity on the physiology of Limnospira indica PCC8005, a cyanobacterium strain included in the MELiSSA project. This thesis presents an analysis of various experimental results and discusses their findings. This analysis will include the assessment of growth under microgravity conditions using indicators such as OD770 and pH, as well as more detailed examinations of glycogen, protein, pigment, and carotenoid content. Furthermore, proteomics analysis was conducted and will also be discussed in this thesis.
The MELiSSA project, led by the European Space Agency, aims to create a sustainable life-support system for long-duration space missions. As part of my academic pursuit towards expanding my knowledge and skills, I conducted an in-depth investigation on how simulated microgravity affects the physiology of Limnospira indica PCC8005, a cyanobacterium strain included in the MELiSSA initiative, during my master's program at SCK CEN.
In this study, various experimental techniques were employed to examine growth patterns under microgravity conditions using indicators, such as OD770 and pH levels. A detailed analysis was also carried out on glycogen, proteins, pigments, carotenoid content, and proteomics examination complemented the findings.
Furthermore, as part of the evaluation of the Artemis B project, simulation experiments were performed to investigate the storage conditions required to maintain sample viability and integrity during transportation from the International Space Station to Earth laboratories. These trials facilitated the examination of how transport may affect samples and their vitality upon receipt in the laboratory.
This thesis will showcase all of these experimental results while providing an insightful discussion highlighting their significance. Through this academic research work, I aim to contribute positively towards developing more effective systems that would facilitate future space exploration without adversely impacting astronauts' health or environmental sustainability considerations.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universit√† Federico II
  • Mazzoli, Arianna, Supervisor, External person
  • Mastroleo, Felice, SCK CEN Mentor
  • Fahrion, Jana, SCK CEN Mentor
Date of Award21 Jul 2023
StatePublished - 2023

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