Planta

, Volume 224, Issue 5, pp 1038–1049 | Cite as

Microgravity effects on leaf morphology, cell structure, carbon metabolism and mRNA expression of dwarf wheat

  • G. W. Stutte
  • O. Monje
  • R. D. Hatfield
  • A. -L. Paul
  • R. J. Ferl
  • C. G. Simone
Original Article

Abstract

The use of higher plants as the basis for a biological life support system that regenerates the atmosphere, purifies water, and produces food has been proposed for long duration space missions. The objective of these experiments was to determine what effects microgravity (μg) had on chloroplast development, carbohydrate metabolism and gene expression in developing leaves of Triticum aestivum L. cv. USU Apogee. Gravity naive wheat plants were sampled from a series of seven 21-day experiments conducted during Increment IV of the International Space Station. These samples were fixed in either 3% glutaraldehyde or RNAlater or frozen at −25°C for subsequent analysis. In addition, leaf samples were collected from 24- and 14-day-old plants during the mission that were returned to Earth for analysis. Plants grown under identical light, temperature, relative humidity, photoperiod, CO2, and planting density were used as ground controls. At the morphological level, there was little difference in the development of cells of wheat under μg conditions. Leaves developed in μg have thinner cross-sectional area than the 1 g grown plants. Ultrastructurally, the chloroplasts of μg grown plants were more ovoid than those developed at 1 g, and the thylakoid membranes had a trend to greater packing density. No differences were observed in the starch, soluble sugar, or lignin content of the leaves grown in μg or 1 g conditions. Furthermore, no differences in gene expression were detected leaf samples collected at μg from 24-day-old leaves, suggesting that the spaceflight environment had minimal impact on wheat metabolism.

Keywords

Bioregeneration Bioregenerative life support Lignin Carbohydrate metabolism Microarray Triticum aestivum L. 

Abbreviations

BLSS

Bioregenerative life support system

BPS

Biomass production system

BRIC

Biological Research in Canisters

CDS

Communication and data system

DAI

Days after imbibition

ISS

International Space Station

KSC

Kennedy Space Center

LN2

Liquid nitrogen

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Association

OES

Orbiter environment simulator

Pnet

Net photosynthesis rate

PAR

Photosynthetically active radiation

PESTO

Photosynthesis experiment system testing and operation

PGC

Plant growth chamber

PPF

Photosynthetic photon flux

PSI

Photosystem I

PSII

Photosystem II

QY

Quantum yield

STS

Space transport system

WCE

Whole chain electron transport

Supplementary material

425_2006_290_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (967 kb)
Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. W. Stutte
    • 1
  • O. Monje
    • 1
  • R. D. Hatfield
    • 2
  • A. -L. Paul
    • 3
  • R. J. Ferl
    • 3
  • C. G. Simone
    • 4
  1. 1.Space Life Sciences Laboratory, Dynamac Corporation, Mail Code Dyn-3Kennedy Space CenterKennedyUSA
  2. 2.US Dairy Forage Research CenterUSDA-Agricultural Research ServiceMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Horticultural SciencesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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