Radiotolerance of N-cycle bacteria and their transcriptomic response to low-dose space-analogue ionizing irradiation

Tom Verbeelen, Celia Alvarez Fernandez, Thanh Huy Nguyen, Surya Gupta, Baptiste Leroy, Ruddy Wattiez, Siegfried E. Vlaeminck, Natalie Leys, Ramon Ganigué, Felice Mastroleo

Research outputpeer-review


The advancement of regenerative life support systems (RLSS) is crucial to allow long-distance space travel. Within the Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELiSSA), efficient nitrogen recovery from urine and other waste streams is vital to produce liquid fertilizer to feed food and oxygen production in subsequent photoautotrophic processes. This study explores the effects of ionizing radiation on nitrogen cycle bacteria that transform urea to nitrate. In particular, we assess the radiotolerance of Comamonas testosteroni, Nitrosomonas europaea, and Nitrobacter winogradskyi after exposure to acute γ-irradiation. Moreover, a comprehensive whole transcriptome analysis elucidates the effects of spaceflight-analogue low-dose ionizing radiation on the individual axenic strains and on their synthetic community o. This research sheds light on how the spaceflight environment could affect ureolysis and nitrification processes from a transcriptomic perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109596
Number of pages19
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024


This work was part of the URINIS-A project, funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO; Contract # PEA 4000129030 ) and ESA via the PRODEX program. The URINIS-A project is part of the MELiSSA program of ESA, ESA\u2019s life support system development program ( ). RG was supported by the Special Research Fund of Ghent University [ BOF19/STA/044 ]. The authors thank Dr. Mohamed Mysara for his valuable support on the RNA-Seq analysis, Rob Van Houdt for his resourceful advice on the qPCR workflow, Olivier Van Hoey for his assistance in the selection of a proper radiation source for the space-analogue radiation and Hugo Moors for his help with the modeling of growth curves for the determination of growth kinetics.

FundersFunder number
BELSPO - Programmatorische Federale Overheidsdienst WetenschapsbeleidPEA 4000129030
BELSPO - Programmatorische Federale Overheidsdienst Wetenschapsbeleid
Universiteit GentBOF19/STA/044

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

    Cite this