Examination into the HI-SEAS IV built environment reveals differences in the microbial diversity and composition of plastic and wood surfaces


  • Diane Li University of British Columbia
  • Kyle Ching University of British Columbia
  • Wesley J. Hunt University of British Columbia


The conditions within a confined built environment designed for long-term habitation during space travel can influence the microbiomes of the abiotic surfaces, emphasizing the necessity of regular microbial screens. The recent Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) IV study examined the microbiome of a confined environment built to mimic a habitat on Mars. Temporal variations in microbial diversity were identified within the HI-SEAS built environment, but the factors associated with the observed microbial dynamics had yet to be explored. Here, we identified these factors by investigating the potential effect of resupply events and surface material on microbial diversity and composition. We found that resupply events had no significant effect on the alpha or beta diversity of the microbiome within the HI-SEAS built environment, but that plastic and wood surfaces exhibited significant differences in alpha and beta diversity. Together, our study provides insights into the considerations for monitoring microbial communities within a confined habitat designed for space exploration.