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PLANT SIGNALING
10/18/2012 by Carina Helle Berg
The Plant Signaling experiment aimed to understand the molecular mechanisms plants use to sense and respond to changes in their environment. This knowledge is valuable for improving crops on earth as well as for designing plants to withstand extreme and extra-terrestrial environments. The experiment was launched on the space shuttle Atlantis in July 2011 and executed on ISS in July-August 2011.
The objective of the Plant Signaling experiment was to investigate the role of the inositol (1,4,5) trisphosphate (InsP3) pathway in plant responses to microgravity. The hypothesis is that InsP3 is an important second messenger in the sensing and signaling of stimuli, included gravity. The experiment aimed to understand what molecular changes occur in microgravity if InsP3-mediated signaling is compromised. To study this, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana was used. Wild type Arabidopsis with a normal InsP3 pathway was compared to transgenic Arabidopsis with InsP5-ptase, which hydrolyzes InsP3 and thereby compromises the InsP3 pathway.
The experiment was conducted in experimental unique containers placed in the EMCS on the International Space Station. By using the 2 centrifuges in the EMCS it was possible to carry out the microgravity experiment along with the 1 g control within the same space environment. Following the 5 day time course in the EMCS, the plants were frozen and returned to the principal investigator for further analysis. The analyses included comparisons of transcripts and protein profiles of the Arabidopsis thaliana wild type plants with the transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants under the microgravity and 1 g conditions. Through these comparisons, the investigators aimed to obtain a better understanding of how plants sense and respond to the space environment. In addition it would contribute to a better understanding of plant signaling during environmental stress.
The long term goal was to understand the molecular mechanisms plants use to sense and respond to changes in their environment. This knowledge is valuable for improving crops on earth to better withstand environmental changes like for example climate changes, salinity, aridity etc. as well as for designing plants to tolerate extreme and extra-terrestrial environments.
Tropi seed cassettes were used for Plant Signalling
Facts
Experiment name: Plant Signalling
Facility: EMCS
Test subject: Arabidopsis thaliana
Experiment duration: 2 runs x 6 days
Growth substrate: Filter paper
Water source: Internal EUE water
Principle Investigator: Imara Perera
Payload Developer: NASA Ames Research Center
Launch vehicle: Space shuttle Atlantis
Performance: 2011
Point of contact:
Principal Investigator: Dr. Imara Perera, North Carolina State University, iperera@ncsu.edu


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