Arabidopsis Thaliana for Spaceflight Applications – Preparing Dormant Biology for Passive Stowage and On Orbit Activation

Natasha Sng, Jordan Callaham, Robert J Ferl, Anna-Lisa Paul

Abstract


Biological experiments on orbit that demonstrate the effects of gravity on plants require precise control of the initiation of plant development. Preserving seed dormancy is critical to experiments that endeavor to study the effects of the orbital environment independent of contributions from either a normal gravity or launch. However, spaceflight experiments are often tightly constrained with respect to the configuration of the biology and associated hardware, and it is rarely possible to launch dry seeds separated from their growth substrate. Described here are techniques established to maintain viable seeds that can remain dormant for up to a month at room temperature hydrated on Phytagel growth medium. The configuration can also accommodate sporadic exposure to light for quick inspection for any breaks in dormancy and for contamination. The data presented outline the preparation of sealed, Phytagel media plates of dormant Arabidopsis thaliana seed that can be activated in situ by exposure to light. Although designed primarily for spaceflight scenarios where seeded plates must be prepared ahead of time without access to cold storage, these protocols can be adapted for any field application where it is desirable to transport dormant, seeded plates to a remote location where it would not be possible to prepare sterile culture plates.

References


Abboud T, Bamsey M, Paul A-L, Graham T, Braham S, Noumeir R, Berinstain A, Ferl R (2013) Deployment of a fully-automated green fluorescent protein imaging system in a high arctic autonomous greenhouse. Sensors (Basel) 13: 3530–3548

Bamsey M, Berinstain A, Graham T, Neron P, Giroux R, Braham S, Ferl R, Paul A-L, Dixon M (2009) Developing strategies for automated remote plant production systems: Environmental control and monitoring of the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse in the Canadian High Arctic. Advances in Space Research 44: 1367–1381

Barrett-Lennard EG, Dracup M (1988) A porous agar medium for improving the growth of plants under sterile conditions. Plant and Soil 108: 294–298

Lodha P, Netravali AN (2005) Characterization of Phytagel® modified soy protein isolate resin and unidirectional flax yarn reinforced “green” composites. Polymer Composites 26: 647–659

Nakashima J, Sparks JA, Carver J, Stephens SD, Kwon T, Blancaflor EB (2014) Delaying Seed Germination and Improving Seedling Fixation: Lessons Learned during Science and Payload Verification Tests for Advanced Plant EXperiments (APEX) 02-1 in Space. Gravitational and Space Research 2: 54-67

Paul A-L, Amalfitano CE, Ferl RJ (2012) Plant growth strategies are remodeled by spaceflight. BMC Plant Biology 12: 232

Paul A-L, Ferl RJ (2002) Molecular Aspects of Stress-Gene Regulation During Spaceflight. Journal of Plant Growth Regulation 21: 166–176

Paul A-L, Wheeler RM, Levine HG, Ferl RJ (2013a) Fundamental plant biology enabled by the space shuttle. American Journal of Botany 100: 226–234

Paul A-L, Zupanska AK, Schultz ER, Ferl RJ (2013b) Organ-specific remodeling of the Arabidopsis transcriptome in response to spaceflight. BMC Plant Biology 13: 112

Ričkienė A (2012) Space plant biology research in Lithuania. Endeavour 36: 117–124

Stout SC, Porterfield DM, Briarty LG, Kuang A, Musgrave ME (2001) Evidence of root zone hypoxia in Brassica rapa L. grown in microgravity. International Journal of Plant Sciences 162: 249–255

Wheeler RM (2011) Plants for Human Life Support in Space: From Myers to Mars. Gravitational and Space Biology 23: 25-35

Wolverton C, Kiss JZ (2011) An Update on Plant Space Biology. Gravitational and Space Biology 22: 13-20

Wyatt SE, Kiss JZ (2013) Plant tropisms: from Darwin to the International Space Station. American Journal of Botany 100: 1–3

Zupanska AK, Denison FC, Ferl RJ, Paul A-L (2013) Spaceflight engages heat shock protein and other molecular chaperone genes in tissue culture cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. American Journal of Botany 100: 235–248


Full Text: PG. 81-89 -- PDF