Effects of continuous hypergravity stimuli on the amounts and composition of cell wall constituents were investigated in wheat shoots. Hypergravity (300 g) treatment for three days after germination increased the net amount of cell wall polysaccharides such as hemicellulose and cellulose, but reduced the shoot elongation. As a result, the amount of cell wall polysaccharides per unit length of shoot increased under hypergravity. The hemicellulose fraction contained polysaccharides in the middle and low molecular mass range (5 kDa-1 MDa) and increased in response to hypergravity. Also, the amounts of arabinose (Ara) and xylose (Xyl), the major sugar components of the hemicellulose fraction, increased under hypergravity conditions. In addition to wall polysaccharides, hypergravity increased the amounts of cell wall-bound phenolic acids, such as ferulic acid (FA) and diferulic acid (DFA). Furthermore, the activity of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL, EC 18.104.22.168) was enhanced under hypergravity conditions. These results suggest that continuous hypergravity stimulates the synthesis of cell wall constituents, especially hemicellulosic arabinoxylans and cell wall-bound FA and DFA in wheat shoots. The increased PAL activity may promote the formation of FA and DFA. These changes in cell wall architecture may be involved in making rigid and tough cell walls under hypergravity conditions and thereby contribute to the ability of plant to sustain their structures against gravitational stimuli.
Research Containing: Plant biology
Plants will be an important component in bioregenerative systems for long-term missions to the Moon and Mars. Since gravity is reduced both on the Moon and Mars, studies that identify the basic mechanisms of plant growth and development in altered gravity are required to ensure successful plant production on these space colonization missions. To address these issues, we have developed a project on the International Space Station (ISS) to study the interaction between gravitropism and phototropism in Arabidopsis thaliana. These experiments were termed TROPI (for tropisms) and were performed on the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) in 2006. In this paper, we provide an operational summary of TROPI and preliminary results on studies of tropistic curvature of seedlings grown in space. Seed germination in TROPI was lower compared to previous space experiments, and this was likely due to extended storage in hardware for up to 8 months. Video downlinks provided an important quality check on the automated experimental time line that also was monitored with telemetry. Good quality images of seedlings were obtained, but the use of analog video tapes resulted in delays in image processing and analysis procedures. Seedlings that germinated exhibited robust phototropic curvature. Frozen plant samples were returned on three space shuttle missions, and improvements in cold stowage and handing procedures in the second and third missions resulted in quality RNA extracted from the seedlings that was used in subsequent microarray analyses. While the TROPI experiment had technical and logistical difficulties, most of the procedures worked well due to refinement during the project.