Growth and cell wall changes in rice roots during spaceflight
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We analyzed the changes in growth and cell wall properties of roots of rice (Oryza sativa L. cv. Koshihikari) grown for 68.5, 91.5, and 136 h during the Space Shuttle STS-95 mission. In space, most of rice roots elongated in a direction forming a constant mean angle of about 55° with the perpendicular base line away from the caryopsis in the early phase of growth, but later the roots grew in various directions, including away from the agar medium. In space, elongation growth of roots was stimulated. On the other hand, some of elasticity moduli and viscosity coefficients were higher in roots grown in space than on the ground, suggesting that the cell wall of space-grown roots has a lower capacity to expand than the controls. The levels of both cellulose and the matrix polysaccharides per unit length of roots decreased greatly, whereas the ratio of the high molecular mass polysaccharides in the hemicellulose fraction increased in space-grown roots. The prominent thinning of the cell wall could overwhelm the disadvantageous changes in the cell wall mechanical properties, leading to the stimulation of elongation growth in rice roots in space. Thus, growth and the cell wall properties of rice roots were strongly modified under microgravity conditions during spaceflight.
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