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And the winners of the #spacemicrobes Microbial Playoffs are…

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Bigger, faster, stronger...which microbes will win in space? (Image Credit: NCI via Wikimedia Commons CC BY)

Editor's Note: This is a guest post by David Coil a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis and a member of the Project MERCURRI team which included SciStarter and Science Cheerleaders. The post originally appeared here

We’ve finished analyzing all the data from the “Microbial Playoffs” part of Project MERCCURI(described here). Each microbe that was chosen to fly to the International Space Station (list of candidate microbes here) was plated out 6 times on the plates that were analyzed in space. We looked at three categories; Best Huddle, Best Tip-Off, and Best Sprint. Here are the winners for each of the three categories:

Best Huddle (The microbe that grew to the highest density, really packing into their space)

: The microbe “Kocuria rhizophila” was collected on a camera at a Yuri’s Night Party with Buzz Aldrin in Los Angeles. Here are some photos of the team swabbing Buzz Aldrin’s shoe. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Yuri’s Night, Los Angeles

San Antonio Spurs: The microbe “Kocuria kristinae” was collected on the court after a San Antonio Spurs game. Here are some photos of the team swabbing the court and a blog post about the experience. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Davis, CA: The microbe “Leucobacter chironomi” was collected in a residential toilet in Davis, CA. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Best Tip-Off (The microbe that got off to the fastest growing start straight out of the freezer)

Pop Warner Chittenango: The microbe “Bacillus pumilus” was collected on a Porta-Potty handle by Pop Warner Chittenango Bears cheerleaders. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia: Bacillus stratosphericus: found in a butterfly water dish at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Here is a photo of the kids that participated in the swabbing. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum: The microbe “Pantoea eucrina” was collected on the Mercury Orbitor at the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space. Here are some photos of the team swabbing at the Museum. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Best Sprint (The microbe that grew the fastest in any single 24-hour period in space)

The microbe “Bacillus horikoshii” was collected on a lobby banister at Parkway Middle School as part of a Broward County STEM teacher’s event. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Parkway Middle School:

Pop Warner Chittenango: The microbe “Bacillus pumilus” was collected on a Porta-Potty handle by Pop Warner Chittenango Bears cheerleaders. For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Mars Exploration Rover (JPL): Paenibacillus elgii: On a Mars Exploration Rover before launch (2004) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL- NASA, Pasadena, CA) For an image of the microbe and more information, see the trading card at the Space Microbes web site.

Shown here are the top three microbes from each category, a full ranking of all the candidates will soon be published at www.spacemicrobes.org

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