New Insights in Plant Biology Gained from Research in Space
Ashley E. Cannon;Mari L. Salmi;Gregory Clark;Stanley Roux (2015). "New Insights in Plant Biology Gained from Research in Space." Journal of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research 3 2: 3-19
Recent space flight experiments have provided many new insights into the role of gravity in plant growth and development. Scientists have been taking seeds and plants into space for decades in an effort to understand how the stressful environment of space affects them. The resultant data have yielded significant advances in the development of advanced life-support systems for long-duration space flight and a better understanding of the fundamental role of gravity in directing the growth and development of plants. Experiments have improved as new spaceflight hardware and technology paved the way for progressively more insightful and rigorous plant research in space. The International Space Station (ISS) provided an opportunity for scientists to both monitor and control their experiments in real-time. Experiments on the ISS have provided valuable insights into endogenous growth responses, light-responses, and transcriptomic and proteomic changes that occur in the microgravity environment. In recent years most studies of plants in space have used Arabidopsis thaliana, but the single-celled, Ceratopteris richardii spore is also a valuable model system that has been used to understand plant gravity response. Experiments using these fern spores have revealed a dynamic and gravity-responsive trans-cell Ca2+ current that directs polarization of these spores, and a possible role of extracellular nucleotides in establishing or contributing to this current. As technology continues to improve, space flight experiments will provide many new insights into the role and effects of gravity on plant growth and development.