The small squid, just three millimeters long, belong to the species Eupryma scolopes and glow in the dark thanks to the presence of a bioluminescent bacterium that lives in their organism. For this reason they constitute a model for studying the symbiosis between the animal and the microorganisms housed inside it. Thanks to the ‘Umami’ experiment (Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions), conceived by researcher Jamie Foster of the University of Florida, it will be possible to verify whether life in space alters this relationship. The results will help to understand what happens in orbit to the bacteria that live in the astronauts’ bodies, with important repercussions also on the health of us terrestrials.
The tardigrades, microscopic animals with an ISS destination
The small ‘army’ of tardigrades, on the other hand, will be at the center of the ‘Cell Science-04’ experiment, designed by Thomas Boothby of the University of Wyoming. According to the researcher, “The goal will be to identify the genes that make these invertebrates able to adapt and survive in extreme conditions. We could, says Boothby, learn a few tricks that use tardigrades and adapt them to safeguard astronauts. “Equally valuable information may also come from the other experiments arriving on the ISS next week: ‘Kidney Cells-02’, for example, will study how to prevent kidney stones that often torment astronauts thanks to a mini kidney reproduced in 3D on a chip, while the TIC TOC experiment will study how the cotton plant develops its roots in microgravity to obtain new, more resistant varieties that require less water and pesticides.