Molecular and Plant Physiological Analyses of the Microgravity Effects on Multigeneration Studies of Arabidopsis thaliana (Multigen) will grow Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, in orbit for three generations. The results of this investigation will support future plans to grow plants on the long-duration transit to Mars. This is a cooperative investigation with the European Space Agency, ESA.Principal Investigator(s)
European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, , Netherlands
Poli Design, Milano, , Italy
European Space Agency (ESA)Sponsoring Organization
Information PendingResearch Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
April 2007 - April 2008Expeditions Assigned
15,16Previous ISS Missions
While Multigen is a new experiment, other studies of plant growth and development have been conducted on the ISS. The Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC) payload was operated during ISS Increments 2, 4, and 5. This experiment studied the ability to grow mature seed bearing plants in microgravity.
Multigen tested a novel method of immobilization of biological samples (e.g. plant seeds). A similar immobilization system was tested on ground with positive results at the Plant BioCentre, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. The
Multigen experiment proposed to observe how this system will work in microgravity conditions.
The experiment used a water soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) membrane to fix plant seeds to a surface, taking care that the fixation method does not impact the science (e.g. growth pattern and biocompatibility) and that it is compatible with the experimental setup (auto-immunization and hardware in general). The experiment protocols include observation of the behavior of the membrane as it is dissolved, looking for any movement of the seeds. Multigen tested and compared PVA membranes of varying thicknesses, and also tested the set-up with different types of seeds, although the main work is done on Arabidopsis thaliana.
Information PendingEarth Applications
Information PendingOperational Protocols
The seeds are launched in a dry state inside the plant cultivation chamber at 22 degrees C. The plant cultivation chamber is placed inside the EMCS by the crew. The crew will activate Multigen, by pressing a button on the EMCS to water the seeds to begin germination. The growth process is closely followed using the EMCS provided time-lapsed video system. When the plant is fully grown and has developed seeds, the crew will press a button on the EMCS to start the dehydration process. The plant cultivation chambers are removed from EMCS and stowed for return to Earth. Once on Earth, a portion of the seeds from the dehydrated plants will be used in ground based morphological studies. The remaining seeds are harvested and returned to ISS in plant cultivation chambers for Mulitgen-2.
Multigen-2 will duplicate the operations of Multigen-1 to create seeds for DNA analysis and Multigen-3. The process will be completed with the plants developed in Multigen-3. The dehydrated plants from Multigen-3 will be harvested and studied to link circumnutational behavior.
The materials and systems of the experiment closely replicate the conditions of plant experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS) in the Multigen. A semiautomatic system will be used to introduce water into small containers in order to dissolve the immobilization materials. We will do one experiment per parabola. We will vary the thickness of the PVA membrane and the type of seeds. Some repetitions of experiments are necessary to obtain reliable results. The result of each experiment will be recorded using a high definition camera in combination with a 40x microscope. The results will highlight any difference between the behavior of the PVA membranes in 1G and in a 0G environment.
Multigen samples were returned to Earth for analysis by the investigator team in April 2008. Final results of the investigation are pending data analysis of the returned samples. (Evans et al. 2009)
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Solheim BB, Kittang A, Iversen T, Johnsson A. Preparatory experiments for long-term observation of Arabidopsis circumnutations in microgravity. Acta Astronautica. 2006; 59: 46-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2006.02.044.
Solheim BB, Kittang A, Iversen T, Johnsson A. Preparatory experiments for long term observation of Arabidopsis circumnutations in microgravity. 56th International Astronautical Conference, Fukuoka, Japan; 2005 A1.6.06.
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