Microgravity - Science and Technology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 17–24 | Cite as

Gravitactic signal transduction elements in astasia longa investigated during parabolic flights

  • Peter R. Richter
  • Martin Schuster
  • Michael Lebert
  • Donat-P. Häder


Euglena gracilis and its close relative Astasia longa show a pronounced negative gravitactic behavior. Many experiments revealed that gravitaxis is most likely mediated by an active physiological mechanism. The goal of the present study was to examine elements in the sensory transduction by means of inhibitors of gravitaxis and the intracellular calcium concentration during short microgravity periods. During the course of six parabolic flights (ESA 31th parabolic flight campaign and DLR 6th parabolic flight campaign) the effects of trifluoperazine (calmodulin inhibitor), caffeine (phosphodiesterase inhibitor) and gadolinium (blocks mechano-sensitive ion channels) was investigated. Due to the extreme parabolic flight maneuvers of the aircraft alternating phases of 1.8×gn (about 20 s) and microgravity (about 22 s) were achieved (gn: acceleration of Earth’s gravity field). The duration of the microgravity periods was sufficient to detect a loss of cell orientation in the samples. In the presence of gadolinium impaired gravitaxis was found during acceleration, while caffeine-treated cells showed, compared to the controls, a very precise gravitaxis and faster reorientation in the 1.8×gn period following microgravity. A transient increase of the intracellular calcium upon increased acceleration was detected also in inhibitor-treated samples. Additionally, it was found that the cells showed a higher calcium signal when they deviated from the vertical swimming direction. In the presence of trifluoperazine a slightly higher general calcium signal was detected compared to untreated controls, while gadolinium was found to decrease the intracellular calcium concentration. In the presence of caffeine no clear changes of intracellular calcium were detected compared to the control.


Caffeine Trifluoperazine Parabolic Flight Euglena Gracilis Cytosolic Calcium Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Z-Tec Publishing 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter R. Richter
  • Martin Schuster
  • Michael Lebert
  • Donat-P. Häder
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Ökophysiologie der PflanzenFriedrich-Alexander-UniversitätErlangenGermany

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