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Research Article Open Access
Objective: Microgravity can influence pathogenic bacteria by changing their various biological characteristics. However, how microgravity affects Streptococcus pneumoniae as well as the relevant mechanisms remain unclear. Methods: A multiple drug resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae strain was cultured in a microgravity or gravity environment for 16 h. Subsequently, various phenotypic assays were performed, including those for morphology, growth curves, biofilm formation and acid and base stress. A combined genomic and transcriptomic analysis was performed. Results: Compared with gravity and the parental strain, the morphology, growth curve and biofilm formation of the microgravity strain did not change, whereas the microgravity strain had increased resistance to weak acid and base solutions and lost the ability to utilize glucuronamide. Comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses revealed that the microgravity strain had changes in gene expression related to metabolism, cell wall/capsule and cell defense mechanisms. Conclusion: Our study reveals microgravity has a significant influence on metabolism and adaptation in the Streptococcus pneumoniae, which exhibit great flexibility and adaptability to survive successfully via the regulation of multiple physiological functions and cellular pathways. It may provide new understanding of space microbiology.