Shotgun metagenomic analysis of kombucha mutualistic community exposed to Mars-like environment outside the International Space Station.


Góes-Neto A(1), Kukharenko O(2), Orlovska I(2), Podolich O(2), Imchen M(3), Kumavath R(3), Kato RB(1), de Carvalho DS(1), Tiwari S(1), Brenig B(4), Azevedo V(3), Reva O(5), de Vera JP(6), Kozyrovska N(2), Barh D(7).
Author information:
(1)Institute of Biological Sciences, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
(UFMG), Av. Antonio Carlos, 6627, Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.
(2)Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of NASU, Acad. Zabolotnoho str., 150, Kyiv, 03680, Ukraine.
(3)Department of Genomic Science, School of Biological Sciences, Central University of Kerala, Padannakkad P.O., Kasaragod, Kerala, 671320, India.
(4)Institute of Veterinary Medicine, Burckhardtweg, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
(5)Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
(6)Institute of Planetary Research, German Aerospace Center, Cologne, Germany.
(7)Centre for Genomics and Applied Gene Technology, Institute of Integrative Omics and Applied Biotechnology
(IIOAB), Nonakuri, Purba Medinipur, West Bengal, India.


Kombucha is a multispecies microbial ecosystem mainly composed of acetic acid bacteria and osmophilic acid-tolerant yeasts, which is used to produce a probiotic drink. Furthermore, Kombucha Mutualistic Community (KMC) has been recently proposed to be used during long space missions as both a living functional fermented product to improve astronauts' health and an efficient source of bacterial nanocellulose. In this study, we compared KMC structure and functions before and after samples were exposed to the space/Mars-like environment outside the International Space Station in order to investigate the changes related to their re-adaptation to Earth-like conditions by shotgun metagenomics, using both diversity and functional analyses of Community Ecology and Complex Networks approach. Our study revealed that the long-term exposure to space/Mars-like conditions on low Earth orbit may disorganize the KMC to such extent that it will not restore the initial community structure; however, KMC core microorganisms of the community were maintained. Nonetheless, there were no significant differences in the community functions, meaning that the KMC communities are ecologically resilient. Therefore, despite the extremely harsh conditions, key KMC species revived and provided the community with the genetic background needed to survive long periods of time under extraterrestrial conditions.