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MULTIGEN-1
10/18/2012 by Carina Helle Berg
​To achieve successful long duration space exploration, a renewable food source for the astronauts must be available. Through the Multigen experiment the possibility of sustainable plant growth for long duration space exploration by growing several generations of plants in orbit was investigated. A model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana was used to study seed production and viability in microgravity. The Multigen-1 hardware was launched on 13A.1 and operated in the EMCS in 2008.

MMultigen.pngultigen-1 was a multi-generation seed-to-seed experiment. In addition to analysis of plant growth the plant shoots were also used for observations of circumnutations in Arabidopsis thaliana. Growth of the Arabidopsis plants was performed in an Experiment Container (EC) in which a Plant Cultivation Chamber (PCC) i.e. a flower pot was located. The PCC was developed by EADS (Germany) and Prototech (Norway). The aim of the experiment was for Arabidopsis seeds to germinate and develop into mature seed-bearing plants after having been hydrated onboard the ISS. In order to harvest the newly developed seeds, the plants would have to be dehydrated. Unfortunately, in the end of the experiment only 1 living plant could be dehydrated, stowed onboard the ISS and eventually returned to Earth. The plant was analyzed by the investigator team but no seed development could be found.

 
 
 
Multigen-1 plant cultivation chamber
The Multigen-1 experiment unique equipment is developed by Prototech AS, Norway. The Multigen-1 plant cultivation chamber is installed in the EMCS experiment container. Each EC can hold one plant cultivation chamber. The plant cultivation chamber is an advances flower pot in which Zeolite enriched with MS-medium is used as growth substrate. There is a lid on top of the plant cultivation chamber to avoid Zeolite particles from floating loose inside the EC volume and there are various numbers of germination holes in these lids in which seeds are placed. For the past experiments which have used this hardware the test species has been Arabidopsis thaliana. The video below shows observations made during the Multigen-1 experiment where circumnutating primary shoot and side shoots were investigated. (Courtesy of Dr. Anders Johnsom and Dr. Bjarte G. B. Solheim.)
 
 
The video above shows the Multigen-1 flight where the Arabidopsis thaliana was grown with 16/8 hrs day/night cycle and the gravity stimulus was turned on and off at different intervals.
 
Facts
Experiment name: Multigen-1
Facility: EMCS
Test subject: Arabidopsis thaliana
Experiment duration: 1 runs x 80 days
Growth substrate: Zeolite enriched with MS
Water source: EMCS water
Principle Investigator: Tor-Henning Iversen
Payload Developer: Prototech AS
Launch vehicle: 13A.1
Performance: 2008

Related articles:
A. Johnsson, B. G. B. Solheim and T.-H. Iversen, Gravity amplifies and microgravity decreases circumnutations in Arabidopsis thaliana stems: results from a space experiment, New Phytologist (2009) 182: 621–629
 
B. G. B. Solheim, A. Johnsson and T.-H. Iversen, Ultradian rhythms in Arabidopsis thaliana leaves in microgravity, New Phytologist (2009) 183: 1043–1052
 
B.G.B. Solheim, 3D information from 2D images recorded in the European Modular Cultivation System on the ISS, Advances in Space Research 44 (2009) 1382-1391

Point of Contact:
Principle Investigator: Tor-Henning Iversen, tor-henning.iversen@bio.ntnu.no


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