Analysis of Peg Formation in Cucumber Seedlings Grown on Clinostats and in a Microgravity (Space) Environment
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L. cv Burpee Hybrid II) grown under conditions of normal gravity, microgravity, and simulated microgravity (clinostat rotation). Seeds were germinated on the ground, in clinostats and on board the space shuttle (STS-95) for 1–2 days, frozen and subsequently examined for their stage of development, degree of hook formation, number of pegs formed, and peg morphology. The frequency of peg formation in space-grown seedlings was found to be nearly identical to that of clinostat-grown seedlings and to differ from that of seedlings germinated under normal gravity only in a minority of cases; ˜6% of the seedlings formed two pegs and nearly 2% of the seedlings lacked pegs, whereas such abnormalities did not occur in ground controls. The degree of hook formation was found to be less pronounced for space-grown seedlings, compared to clinostat-grown seedlings, indicating a greater degree of decoupling between peg formation and hook formation in space. Nonetheless, in all seedlings having single pegs and a hook, the peg was found to be positioned correctly on the inside of the hook, showing that there is coordinate development even in microgravity environments. Peg morphologies were altered in space-grown samples, with the pegs having a blunt appearance and many pegs showing alterations in expansion, with the peg extending out over the edges of the seed coat and downwards. These phenotypes were not observed in clinostat or ground-grown seedlings.
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