The first global genomic, proteomic, and secondary metabolomic characterization of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans following growth onboard the International Space Station (ISS) is reported. The investigation included the A. nidulans wild-type and three mutant strains, two of which were genetically engineered to enhance secondary metabolite production. Whole genome sequencing revealed that ISS conditions altered the A. nidulans genome in specific regions. In strain CW12001, which features overexpression of the secondary metabolite global regulator laeA, ISS conditions induced the loss of the laeA stop codon. Differential expression of proteins involved in stress response, carbohydrate metabolic processes, and secondary metabolite biosynthesis was also observed. ISS conditions significantly decreased prenyl xanthone production in the wild-type strain and increased asperthecin production in LO1362 and CW12001, which are deficient in a major DNA repair mechanism. These data provide valuable insights into the adaptation mechanism of A. nidulans to spacecraft environments.
Keywords: Aspergillus nidulans; Genomics; International Space Station; Metabolomics; Proteomics.