In this work, we report on the construction, training and functional assessment of an electronic nose (called ‘E-Nose’) that is capable of monitoring the microbial contamination onboard space ships under microgravity conditions. To this end, a commercial electronic nose was modified to allow for the sampling of microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) emitted from relevant bacterial and fungi species. Training of the modified ‘E-Nose’ was performed by establishing an MVOC database consisting of two Gram-positive bacteria strains (Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus warneri) and two fungi strains (Aspergillus versicolor and Penicillium expansum). All these strains are known to exist onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and to form important parts of its microbial contamination. All cultures were grown on four kinds of structural materials also in use onboard the ISS. The MVOCs emitted during the different growth phases of these cultures were monitored with an array of ten different metal oxide gas sensors inside the ‘E-Nose’. Principal component analysis of the array data revealed that B. subtilis and S. warneri form separate clusters in an optimized score plot, while the two fungi strains of A. versicolor and P. expansum form a large common cluster, well discriminated against to the bacteria clusters.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, other, Materials Sciences, Physics