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"Mechanisms of Gravity Resistance in Plants" experiment has started on board Kibo

Last Updated: November 5, 2012

JAXA's life science experiment "Mechanisms of Gravity Resistance in Plants - From Signal Transformation and Transduction to Response*" (Resist Tubule experiment), which uses the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) onboard Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module, has started.

*Principal Investigator (PI): Takayuki Hoson, Graduate School of Science, Osaka City University

After the preparation made by astronaut Hoshide at 5:50 p.m., Monday, October 15, 2012, Resist Tubule experiment was started at 6:32 p.m., on the same day.

The experiment tests three different cases. The first case cultivates germinated Arabidopsis (thale cress) for three days after the germination and observes each cell structure using a fluorescence microscope. The second case also cultivates Arabidopsis the same way with the first case, then refrigerate them to return to Earth for observation on the ground. The third case cultivates germinated Arabidopsis for 30 days and observes and takes the photos, then treat with gene preservatives and freezes the samples and return them to Earth for analysis.

Wild and various mutant Arabidopsis are being germinated and cultivated under microgravity environment. Without gravity, each process until they make a response should stop.

The experiment performs detailed study of how a plant's gene works and changes its cell structure by comparing the growth of Arabidopsis cultivated under microgravity and Arabidopsis grown on the ground or under artificial gravity in space.

How a plant receives a signal of gravity, transmit the signal and respond to it? If such mechanism is understood, it will contribute to efficient plant production not only in space but also on Earth.

【Remarks from the PI, Prof. Hoson】

I'm so excited about the start of our space experiment and the fact that astronaut Hoshide performs the experiment for us. Through the experiment, we expect that we will understand a novel mechanism of how a plant responds to gravity. We are very much grateful to JAXA and many concerned people who struggled for the realization of this experiment, especially the acquisition of a launch opportunity after the end of the space shuttle program.

Astronaut Hoshide performing the experiment (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

Astronaut Hoshide performing the experiment (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

*All times are Japan Standard Time (JST)

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