An On-Line Monitor of Microbial Ecosystems
In order to grow plants for food on the Space Station, it is very important to cultivate and maintain appropriate microbial eco systems. These ecosystems are essential to fostering proper root development and permitting rapid and healthy growth of plants. Until very recently, there was no simple method or instrument that would permit the monitoring of microbial ecosystems. However in 1989, Biolog, Inc. introduced a revolutionary test kit technology that allows one to monitor micro-scale samples of microbial populations simultaneously in 95 different metabolic tests. This technology was developed originally for pure cultures of microorganisms to yield species level identifications. Then in 1991, Jay Garland and Aaron Mills showed that mixed microbial populations from a variety of soil and water ecosystems also gave unique and characteristic metabolic fingerprints when monitored continuously in Biolog MicroPlates. Recently, their findings have been confirmed at several other universities. In this SBIR submission, we propose to develop a very small instrument that incorporates all of the necessary components (micro test cards, continuous carousel with vision system, and software for analysis and recognition of microbial ecosystems). The instrument will monitor ecosystems of the Space Station, alert the astronauts to undesirable changes, and help determine remedial actions.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Principal Investigator:Barry R. Bochner
3938 Trust Way Hayward, CA 94545
Number of Employees: