In an unusual study, the scientists from NASA have discovered that there could be significant gene alterations due to space travels. The astronaut Scott Kelly and his twin brother Mark who stayed on Earth were involved in the study.
The difference is visible right from the chromosomes of twins in the length to the microbiomes present in the guts. The changes that attribute to the time Scott spends in the orbit includes the changes in the expression of the genes, methylation of genes which is the reversible addition of chemical marker which can influence the expression of genes and other markers of biology.
The methylation of DNA was reduced in Scott during his flight and developed in Mark at the same time period. The levels of the methylation came close to the levels of pre-flights soon after Scott returned back to Earth. These findings were published in the Nature journals which were based on the preliminary results. The gene expression signatures also differ now between the twins. The changes in the genes keep happening in the people who are earthbound and who have erratic shifts such as changes in sleeping habits and diets. In accordance with the article that was published by Nature News, tests were conducted before as well as after the yearlong sojourn of Scott on board of the International Space Station while his brother Mark stayed on Earth.
The alterations in the genes were more prominent in Scott than the normal, mostly due to the stress caused by eating the frozen food and sleep trials while floating in the space. However, the results may not be generalized as the twin brothers are just two people who were considered. Scott spent a total of 520 days in the space of his lifetime and 340 days during 2015-2016 , whereas Mark who is also an astronaut had a tenure of 54 days in space which were covered in four space shuttle missions between 2001- 2011.