'Shape-shifting' bacteria spotted on International Space Station...
Bacterial cells treated with a common antibiotic have been spotted changing shape to survive while aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The way bacteria act in near-zero gravity environments could pose a serious problem for treating astronauts with infections.
The "clever shape-shifting" was detected in bacteria being experimented on in the near-weightlessness of space, and is believed to help the bacteria survive.
An experiment on the common E coli bacteria subjected it to different concentrations of the antibiotic gentamicin sulfate, a drug which kills the bug on Earth.
However, in comparison to a control group on Earth, the space bacteria showed a 13-fold increase in cell numbers and a 73% reduction in cell column size.
"We knew bacteria behave differently in space and that it takes higher concentrations of antibiotics to kill them," said the study's lead author, Dr Luis Zea.
"What's new is that we conducted a systematic analysis of the changing physical appearance of the bacteria during the experiments."