UF/IFAS plants grown in space have been flown home

UF/IFAS plants grown in space have been flown home


ET may have called home, but plants from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) experiment were recently flown home from the International Space Station (ISS).

Plants specifically Arabidopsis thaliana plantThey were harvested from seeds planted by astronauts on the International Space Station, launched aboard a return capsule that landed on Earth, and shipped to eager researchers at UF/IFAS’s Space Plants Laboratory, including Anna Lisa Paul and Robert Ferrell.

This latest experiment focuses on whether genetic strategies make plants hardier and more adaptable to the spaceflight environment and whether Arabidopsis plants pass these strategies on to their offspring, making them better suited to growing in space, said Paul, the trial’s lead researcher. . pee He is Professor of Horticultural Sciences at UF/IFAS and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research. The study could help researchers understand how all plants respond to space travel.

“Think about the food we might grow and the plants we use to clean the air. Everyone might be better off if we allowed them to grow a generation in space first before relying on them for food and life support,” she said. “If we knew that plants could be ‘trained’ to be in an environmentally friendly environment,” she said. “We can expect plants to grow better and adapt to space as generations pass.”

The plants were launched as seeds to the International Space Station in May, grown in July, harvested by astronauts in the fall, landed on Earth in December, and returned to researchers in January.

These plants are the second round of a multi-part project. The seeds sent to the International Space Station in May were from plants previously grown on the space station, making them second-generation plants grown in space.

The project focuses on epigenetics – the study of how the environment can cause changes in how genes in an organism are turned on or off due to stress – and how space travel affects this process. A previous study by Paul and Ferrell showed that gene expression changes associated with spaceflight could result from epigenetics. This study will determine whether any of these epigenetic changes are passed on to the next generation.

Scientists have studied and mapped Arabidopsis genes extensively so that they can compare this spaceflight experience with the vast wealth of experiments conducted in other terrestrial environments. “So it works both ways,” Paul said. “In addition to gaining insight into how plants use epigenetic tools to adapt to the spaceflight environment, we are learning how plants can use epigenetics to adapt to any adverse environment, even the one here.” ” Land.”

“We very much appreciate the time the astronauts spent caring for our plants so carefully,” she said. Current plant research on the International Space Station could influence how plants are grown in space for decades to come.

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to advance knowledge relevant to agricultural, human, and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and improve the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS provides science-based solutions for the state’s agricultural and natural resource industries and for all Floridians. .

For more information, go to ifas.ufl.edu

(tags for translation)University of Florida

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