, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 465–473 | Cite as

Hypobaria and hypoxia affects phytochemical production, gas exchange, and growth of lettuce

  • C. He
  • D. A. Jacobo-Velázquez
  • L. Cisneros-Zevallos
  • F. T. DaviesEmail author


Hypobaria (low total atmospheric pressure) is essential in sustainable, energy-efficient plant production systems for long-term space exploration and human habitation on the Moon and Mars. There are also critical engineering, safety, and materials handling advantages of growing plants under hypobaria, including reduced atmospheric leakage from extraterrestrial base environments. The potential for producing crops under hypobaria and manipulating hypoxia (low oxygen stress) to increase health-promoting bioactive compounds is not well characterized. Here we showed that hypobaric-grown lettuce plants (25 kPa ≈ 25% of normal pressure) exposed to hypoxia (6 kPa pO2 ≈ 29% of normal pO2) during the final 3 d of the production cycle had enhanced antioxidant activity, increased synthesis of anthocyananins, phenolics, and carotenoids without reduction of photosynthesis or plant biomass. Net photosynthetic rate (P N) was not affected by total pressure. However, 10 d of hypoxia reduced P N, dark respiration rate (R D), P N/R D ratio, and plant biomass. Growing plants under hypobaria and manipulating hypoxia during crop production to enhance health-promoting bioactive compounds is important for the health and well-being of astronauts exposed to space radiation and other stresses during long-term habitation.

Additional key words

bioprotectants carbon assimilation chlorophyll content dark respiration rate Lactuca sativa low pressure oxygen radical absorbance capacity phytochemicals 



CO2 assimilation






dark-period respiration




low pressure plant growth system


antioxidant activity


net photosynthetic rate

PN/RD ratio

net photosynthesis/dark respiration rate ratio


partial pressure of O2


dark respiration rate


reactive oxygen species


total soluble phenolics


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. He
    • 1
  • D. A. Jacobo-Velázquez
    • 2
  • L. Cisneros-Zevallos
    • 1
  • F. T. Davies
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Horticultural Sciences and Interdisciplinary Program of Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences (MEPS)Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Centro de Biotecnología-FEMSA, Departamento de Biotecnología e Ingeniería de AlimentosTecnológico de MonterreyMonterreyMéxico

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