NanoRacks-Midreshet Ben-Gurion-Cuscuta Parasitic Plant Growth (NanoRacks-MBG-Cuscuta) - 05.30.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
A genus of parasitic plants called Cuscuta, or dodder, heavily damages agricultural fields and destroys crops. Cuscuta has no leaves or roots, but wraps itself counterclockwise around a host plant, inserting small appendages to feast on the host plant’s food supply. NanoRacks-Midreshet Ben-Gurion-Cuscuta Parasitic Plant Growth (NanoRacks-MBG-Cuscuta) examines the mechanism that allows Cuscuta to wrap itself around other plants, which could lead to new insights for fighting it with herbicides or other treatments.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Omri Farber, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-9 Ext S/N 1014

Principal Investigator(s)
Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Israel

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Chezi Yizhak, Ph.D., Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Israel
Omri Farber, Ramon Foundation, Halutza, Israel

Developer(s)
Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Sdeh Boker, Israel
NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2014 - March 2015

Expeditions Assigned
39/40,41/42

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Today, there are still no pesticides or any other way to fight with Cuscuta, a parasitic plant that damages fields and destroys crops.
  • NanoRacks-Midreshet Ben-Gurion-Cuscuta Parasitic Plant Growth (NanoRacks-MBG-Cuscuta) studies the special way it attacks the host, always in a counterclockwise direction.

Description
NanoRacks-Midreshet Ben-Gurion-Cuscuta Parasitic Plant Growth (NanoRacks-MBG-Cuscuta) examines Cuscuta, a parasitic plant without leaves or roots, and does not perform photosynthesis. This plant damages fields and destroys crops. Cuscuta have an unknown mechanism that causes it to wrap around the host, always in a counterclockwise direction. By examining this behavior in microgravity, this mechanism may be better understood leading to a solution to fight this parasitic plant. For the experiment, the seeds are set up in the MixStix waiting for the water to be released.  When the water is released, the seeds start to soak in the water and hopefully after some time release their vigorous roots.

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Applications

Space Applications
By eliminating the effect of gravity, researchers can better understand the physical nature of Cuscuta plants, which always wrap themselves around their hosts in a counterclockwise direction. Plants use gravity-sensing cells for a wide range of tasks, and growing Cuscuta in the absence of gravity provides a unique way to study the plant’s behavior. Such research is only possible in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.

Earth Applications
Cuscuta plants do not perform photosynthesis, but instead feed on the vascular system of other plants. Its invasive nature causes heavy damage to crops, trees, shrubs and other valuable plants, but there are currently no herbicides to treat it effectively. A better understanding of how the plant works can help scientists devise new ways to fight it, protecting agricultural crops and ornamental plants and preventing expensive losses.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
The MixStix are unclamped to combine different compartments, typically causing either activation or deactivation of the experiment.  The MixStix are returned to the students.
A crew member removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 Ext lid. The crew member unclamps the fasteners on the MixStix as directed, enabling the materials in the various chambers to flow. The crew member then shakes the MixStix (when directed) to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all MixStix. Crew member notes the time of MixStix activation and replaces the tubes back in Module-9. The lid is replaced and secured with the Velcro tabs.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
NanoRacks

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Imagery

image NanoRacks-Midreshet Ben-Gurion-Cuscuta Parasitic Plant Growth (NanoRacks-MBG-Cuscuta) Cuscuta seed in test tube during class testing. Image courtesy of Midreshet Ben-Gurion.
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image NanoRacks-Midreshet Ben-Gurion-Cuscuta Parasitic Plant Growth (NanoRacks-MBG-Cuscuta) Cuscuta seed from class testing. Image courtesy of Midreshet Ben-Gurion.
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image NanoRacks-Midreshet Ben-Gurion-Cuscuta Parasitic Plant Growth (NanoRacks-MBG-Cuscuta) student in ground testing lab. Image courtesy of Midreshet Ben-Gurion.
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