* PREMISE OF THE STUDY: In spaceflight experiments, tissues for morphologic study are fixed in 3% glutaraldehyde, while tissues for molecular study are fixed in RNAlater; thus, an experiment containing both study components requires multiple fixation strategies. The possibility of using RNAlater-fixed materials for standard SEM-based morphometric investigation was explored to expand the library of tissues available for analysis and maximize usage of samples returned from spaceflight, but these technologies have wide application to any situation where recovery of biological resources is limited. * METHODS AND RESULTS: RNAlater-fixed samples were desalinated in distilled water, dehydrated through graded methanol, plunged into liquid ethane, and transferred to cryovials for freeze-substitution. Sample tissues were critical point dried, mounted, sputter-coated, and imaged. * CONCLUSIONS: The protocol resulted in acceptable SEM images from RNAlater-fixed Arabidopsis thaliana tissue. The majority of the tissues remained intact, including general morphology and finer details such as root hairs and trichomes.
Research Containing: Root hair growth
Transcriptional response of Arabidopsis seedlings during spaceflight reveals peroxidase and cell wall remodeling genes associated with root hair development
• Premise of the study: Plants will be an important component of advanced life support systems during space exploration missions. Therefore, understanding their biology in the spacecraft environment will be essential before they can be used for such systems.• Methods: Seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana were grown for 2 wk in the Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) hardware on board the second to the last mission of the space shuttle Discovery (STS-131). Transcript profiles between ground controls and space-grown seedlings were compared using stringent selection criteria.• Key results: Expression of transcripts associated with oxidative stress and cell wall remodeling was repressed in microgravity. These downregulated genes were previously shown to be enriched in root hairs consistent with seedling phenotypes observed in space. Mutations in genes that were downregulated in microgravity, including two uncharacterized root hair-expressed class III peroxidase genes (PRX44 and PRX57), led to defective polar root hair growth on Earth. PRX44 and PRX57 mutants had ruptured root hairs, which is a typical phenotype of tip-growing cells with defective cell walls and those subjected to stress.• Conclusions: Long-term exposure to microgravity negatively impacts tip growth by repressing expression of genes essential for normal root hair development. Whereas changes in peroxidase gene expression leading to reduced root hair growth in space are actin-independent, root hair development modulated by phosphoinositides could be dependent on the actin cytoskeleton. These results have profound implications for plant adaptation to microgravity given the importance of tip growing cells such as root hairs for efficient nutrient capture.