Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus Science Insert - 01: C. elegans and Seed Germination (CSI-01) - 07.15.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus Science Insert - 01 (CSI-01) is comprised of two educational experiments that will be utilized by middle school students in the Unites States and Malaysia. One experiment is examining seed germination in microgravity including gravitropism (plant growth towards gravity) and phototropism (plant growth towards light). The second experiment is examining how microgravity affects the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans, a small nematode worm. Thousands of students began participating in the experiments in February 2007.

Science Results for Everyone

Science fair on steroids: thousands of middle school students in the United States and Malaysia participated in experiments examining microgravity’s effects on seed germination and a small nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. Students comparing C. elegans grown in their classrooms and on the space station observed normal development and movements when nematodes in space were sufficiently fed. This suggests that muscular function adapts to microgravity, which could have implications for human cardiac, skeletal, and vascular muscles, and that muscular decline in space may level off. Students also compared germination rates and orientation between seeds in space and on the ground.
 



The following content was provided by Louis S. Stodieck, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details

OpNom

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Louis S. Stodieck, Ph.D., University of Colorado, BioServe Space Technologies, Boulder, CO, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Nathaniel J. Szewczyk, Ph.D., University of Pittsburg, Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • David Baillie, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  • Jacob Freeman, BioServe Space Technologies, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States
  • Mazlan Othman, National Space Agency, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Peter Lawrie, Orion's Quest, Detroit, MI, United States
  • Robert C. Johnsen, Simon Fraser Univeristy, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  • Thomas Drummond, Orion's Quest, Detroit, MI, United States

  • Developer(s)
    University of Colorado at Boulder, BioServe Space Technologies, Boulder, CO, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    National Laboratory Education (NLE)

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    September 2006 - October 2007

    Expeditions Assigned
    14,15

    Previous ISS Missions
    A similar investigation, Space Technology and Research Students (STARSTM) flew on STS-93 and STS-107.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • CSI-01 is an educational payload designed to interest middle school students in science, technology, engineering and math by providing the opportunity for these students to participate in near real-time research conducted on board the ISS.


    • The seed germination experiment will provide the opportunity for students to begin to understand how gravity affects germination and plant development. Seeds germinated on orbit will allow students the opportunity to examine both root and stem growth in microgravity. A second experiment using Caenorhabditis elegans, a small nematode worm, will examine multi-generational and long term growth of C. elegans.


    • Each experiment is designed to be easily reproducible in the classroom providing hands-on experience to the students. The students will be able to view the progress of the CSI-01 investigation on ISS via near real-time downlink and the World Wide Web. These experiments have the potential to impact between 7,500 - 11,250 students during the first phase of this program which is designed to be conducted on an annual basis.

    Description
    The Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus Science Insert-01 (CSI-01) was the first in a series of experiments for the K-12 education program from BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. This program provided students learning opportunities based on research conducted on the ISS through downlinked imagery and data, which was distributed directly into the classroom via the internet. National standards-based curriculum materials, including teacher guidebooks, student workbooks and complementary classroom experiments, were used to ensure the greatest possible benefit to the participating students. The objective of the CSI suite of experiments was to launch small education experiments to be processed in Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA) on an annual basis such that during every academic school year, a "live", on-orbit experiment is available to participating schools.

    CSI-01 supported three investigations. The first examined multi-generational, long-term growth of Caenorhabditis elegans—a small nematode worm, a model organism used for detailed study of physiological processes that also affect humans. This experiment utilized two strains of C. elegans, wild type (CC1) and a balancer strain (eT1). The eT1 strain was designed to allow accumulation of mutations without such mutations being lethal to the organism. This model enabled the study of the biological effects of space radiation. The worms were grown using C. elegans maintenance medium (CeMM) and gas exchange sterile chambers, Opticells, inside the C. elegans Habitat (CHab) housed in a CGBA. At approximately one-month intervals, nematodes were automatically transferred from one chamber to a chamber with fresh CeMM. This was to ensure the nematode specimens reproduced and propagated for up to six months on orbit under nominal, well-defined environmental conditions. This C. elegans experiment involved over 5,000 middle school students (grades 6 - 9) located in Texas, Arizona, Michigan, Florida, California, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Montana, as well as, several thousand students from Malaysia. The C. elegans experiment is part of the Orion's Quest education program. Video of the worms can be seen on the website.

    The second investigation provided the opportunity for over 2,000, third-grade students to understand how gravity affects germination and plant development. Raphanus sativus, radish plants, and Medicago sativa, alfalfa plants, were germinated on orbit in a Garden Habitat (GHab). The activation for this experiment was coordinated with the participating schools in order to have their seeds germinate at approximately the same time as the germination of the on-orbit plants. Students examined both root and stem growth of the two plants on Earth and onboard the ISS. The seed germination experiment provides the opportunity for schoolchildren to participate in the investigation in conjunction with the Adventures of the Agronauts program at North Carolina State University.

    The third experiment included orchids, Malaysian red sandalwood and rosewood tree seeds. These seeds were returned to Earth after approximately six months of exposure to the space environment. The orchid seeds were planted along side control seeds for radiation studies; whereas, the Malaysian tree seeds were distributed to students in Malaysia for germination experiments on Earth.

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    Applications

    Space Applications
    Influences children to continue their education in the science, technology engineering and math areas and pursue related careers. This will promote education of the next generation of scientists, engineers, astronauts for the space program. In addition, scientific research with the CHab and GHab experiments is expected provide a greater understanding of the effects of space flight on biological organisms.

    Earth Applications
    CSI-01 provides a unique educational opportunity to encourage and inspire students to pursue careers in the scientific and technical fields by participating in near real-time research activities on the ISS.

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    Operations

    Operational Requirements
    CSI-01 is a simple automated payload with a minimal crew time requirement. Fifteen minutes of crew time will be required to activate CGBA-4 following installation of CSI-01. The three cameras and a lighting assembly inside CGBA-4 will allow the ground control team to monitor the progress of CSI-01. The cameras will be used to look at the CHab and GHAB using different Fields of Views (FOVs). These cameras will provide magnification of the image at approximately 2.4 x 3.2 mm FOV. The high magnification cameras will permit the detailed study of specimen morphology and movement behavior while the low magnification camera will permit quantification of population growth. Upon completion of operations, fifteen minutes of crew time will be required to deactivate CGBA-4. CSI-01 requires data downlink on a daily basis which will be accomplished through BioServe's Payload Operations and Control Center.

    Operational Protocols
    Once the payload is transferred from the Shuttle to the ISS and fully powered on, minimal crew time is required. The hardware for the experiment has been automated to allow imagery of the experiments independent of crew involvement. The ISS crew will implement a procedure to access the CSI on orbit and rotate the CHabs and GHab for additional imaging opportunities. BioServe will be able to monitor the experiment via data and video downlink.

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    Results/More Information

    CSI-01 was the first in a series of experiments targeting students with an interactive approach to increase STEM interest. CSI-01 was a multipart experiment launched into orbit on December 15, 2007 aboard STS-116 and returned approximately 90 days later on STS-117. More than 5,000 students participated in the CSI-01 experiments by observing differences detected between C. elegans grown in classrooms and inflight. Students also observed the alterations in seed germination rates along with the seed's ability to orient itself in space and ground samples (Hoehn et al 2007).

    CSI-01 was integrated into the CGBA incubator where the experiment was facilitated for the duration of the mission. The CGBA is a single middeck locker insert that provides temperature control, power, and computer control to the internal experiments (Goulart et al 2004). The CSI experiments were not the first experiments to be introduced to the CGBA incubator. Previous experiments "Ladybugs in Space" and "STARS" built a successful foundation for future educational missions to be based on (Goulart et al 2005).

    The first experiment associated with CSI-01 examined the long term growth of C. elegans in space by observing biological changes in response to radiation and by comparing gene expression over multiple generations grown in space. Results indicated that C. elegans exhibit normal development and movements when fed with C. elegans Maintenance Medium (CeMM). CeMM was previously proven to be a sufficient food source aboard STS-107 (Szewczyk et al 2005). Although in both humans and C. elegans decreased production of myosin is observed while in space, C. elegans displayed normal movements when sufficiently fed. This finding suggests the decrease in muscular function is adaptive to microgravity, possibly relating this to human cardiac, skeletal and vascular muscles. Because movement decline was not detected throughout the entire 12 generations observed, this also suggest that there actually may be a muscular decline plateau (Oczypok et al 2012).

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    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

      Woodard S, Goulart C, Hoehn A.  Performance of the STARS life sciences payload during benchtop testing and mission simulations. International Conference on Environmental Systems, Vancouver, Canada; 2003

      Goulart C, Woodard S, Campbell K.  STARS™ (Science Technology and Research Students): A Hands-on, Interactive, Scientific and Cultural Exchange Lesson. SAE Technical Paper. 2005; 2005-01-3102. DOI: 10.4271/2005-01-3102.

      Goulart C, Woodard S, Rupert M, Stodieck LS.  Performance of the STARS life sciences habitats in spaceflight and ground controls. SAE International Journal of Aerospace. 2004; 2004-01-2394. DOI: 10.4271/2004-01-2394.

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    Related Websites
    The Province
    Vancouver Sun
    B.C. scientist to study radiation from space worms
    STARS
    Adventures of the Agronauts
    Orion's Quest

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    Imagery

    image This image shows the hardware that is used in the CSI-01 investigation. The CHab (Caenorhabditis elegans Habitat) and the GHab (Garden Habitat) is seen sitting inside of the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA) developed by BioServe Space Technology. Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image The Caenorhabditis elegans Habitat (CHab) houses the C. elegans investigation. This image shows the preparation of the samples that will fly on the International Space Station during Expedition 14. Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image This image shows several Caenorhabditis elegans, small nematode worms, on-orbit during Expedition 14 on January 10, 2007. Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image This image shows several Caenorhabditis elegans, small nematode worms, on-orbit during Expedition 14 on January 24, 2007. Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image This image shows several Caenorhabditis elegans, small nematode worms, on-orbit during Expedition 14 on January 24, 2007. Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image The Garden Habitiat (GHab) houses the seed germination experiment that will help students to understand how gravity affects germination and plant development. Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image This image shows two alfalfa seeds (smaller seeds) and two radish seeds (larger seeds) that are part of the classroom kit that will be used by students participating in CSI-01 experiment. Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image Time elapsed photography of the GHabs on the ISS and on Earth on day-1, shows initial germination and a visible small root in the alfalfa seed on the ground (right) compared to the seed on the ISS (left). Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image Time elapsed photography of the GHabs on Earth and on the ISS on day-9, shows the continued growth of the ground seeds (right) and little change is seen in the flight seeds (left). Image courtesy of NASA.
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    image NASA Image: ISS014E20207 - Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expeditions 14 and 15 Flight Engineer, activates the alfalfa seeds in the Garden Habitat (G-Hab) as part of the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus Science Insert - 01 (CSI-01) investigation.
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    image NASA Image: ISS014E20219 - A close up view of Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expeditions 14 and 15 Flight Engineer, activating the alfalfa seed in the G-Hab for the CSI-01 investigation.
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    image NASA Image: ISS014E20211- Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expeditions 14 and 15 Flight Engineer, seen here with two G-Habs as part of the CSI-01 investigation. The G-Habs are placed in the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA) where their germination will be studied by middle school students.
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