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


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.


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