Study of the Resistance of a Modeled Closed Ecosystem and Chains of Its Components in Microgravity (Akvarium (Aquarium)) - 03.07.18

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Study of the Resistance of a Modeled Closed Ecosystem and Chains of its Components in Microgravity (Akvarium) examines the impact of spaceflight factors on dormant embryos of lower aquatic crustaceous organisms (Daphnia magna, Streptocephalus torvicornis, Eucypris species, etc.) in the diapause and the larval stages and capable of remaining in cryptobiosis (an ametabolic state of life entered by an organism in response to adverse environmental conditions) for an extended period of time.
Science Results for Everyone
In sci-fi movies, people spend years in sleep-like states during space travel. Reality may be less dreamy. Researchers tested long-term dormant states in space in invertebrates and plants and found that the stress of space caused decreased reactivation and weakened embryos post-dormancy in a fish species. Other test subjects showed decreased growth and possible loss of reproductive ability, and some had changes in gene expression. These negative effects remained when dormant cells were reactivated. The results indicate that more in-depth studies on how spaceflight affects dormant organisms are needed before we start sleeping our way through the cosmos.

The following content was provided by Vladimir Nikolaevich Sychev, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Vladimir Nikolaevich Sychev, Ph.D., Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of Russian Academy of Sciences (IMBP RAS), Moscow, Russia

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Sponsoring Space Agency
Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)

Sponsoring Organization
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Research Benefits
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ISS Expedition Duration
April 2005 - April 2007; October 2007 - April 2008

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Previous Missions
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Experiment Description

Research Overview
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Space Applications
The experiment results enable data to be obtained on the impact of spaceflight conditions on the resilience of the functioning of a closed ecosystem and on the growth and development of individual organisms that are components of the autotrophic and heterotrophic links of the closed ecosystem.

Earth Applications
The results obtained may also be important for the ecology of terrestrial communities. The existence of such a capability significantly changes the understanding of the role of the maternal effect in microevolutionary processes in bodies of water. If such a phenomenon is observed with respect to other stress factors typical on the Earth’s surface, such as ultraviolet radiation, then the properties of diapause embryos on dry land and at the bottom of bodies of water will be different, as will their capability to fight against something specific after reactivation.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
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Decadal Survey Recommendations

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Results/More Information

The results obtained made it possible to hypothesize that exposure on the International Space Station (ISS) acted on the dry D. magna embryos as a stress factor, weakening their vital activity. This manifested as both a decrease in reactivation effectiveness and a change in the dynamic of the average sizes of specimens capable of hatching, which took the form of the slower emergence of young fish from smaller, and thus weaker, embryos. The effect of spaceflight factors is also manifested in the second generation of Daphnia, causing a transition to gamogenesis and the production of males in the population. The D. magna embryos after exposure on the ISS manifested a high sensitivity to the effect of the fungal parasite Pitium daphniarum as compared to the control, which among other factors raises the question of biological safety measures from spacecraft flora regarding biological material intended for long-term space exploration.

In S. torvicornis, a decrease in growth and reproduction parameters was observed, however, unlike the control, this was not confirmed statistically due to extremely high variability and relating to its parameter assessment error. The only statistically significant factor for this species was the effect of day length on the growth of females.

The studies of Artemia salina showed that the temperature threshold of expression activation of the gene encoded in the Hsp90 molecular chaperone was substantially lower in response to thermal stress in Artemia nauplius from the flight samples than in the ground control group. This manifested as a sharp increase detected in the level of Hsp90 gene expression in both flight groups with thermal stress of 32-33°C, while in the control groups the minimum thermal stress required to initiate Hsp90 synthesis was 37-38°C.

Investigations on the ground did not identify an impact of spaceflight factors on the rate of reactivation and subsequent vital activity on the chironomid Polypedilum vanderplanki larva exposed on the ISS in a state of cryptobiosis. The fertility in the experiment animals did not differ from that of the control animals.

These results showed that a cell in a dormant stage and containing just 5% water is capable of acquiring and transferring information on the effects of negative factors after transitioning from the dormant stage to an active state, thus also confirming data from molecular/genetic research. These results provide the rationale for continuing in-depth studies of the impact of spaceflight factors on dormant stage living organisms belonging to various taxonomic groups.

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Results Publications

    Levinskikh MA, Sychev VN.  Using an experimental microcosm to study the effect of spaceflight factors at the ecosystem level of biological organization, State and problems of production hydrobiology. Aquatic Ecology at the Dawn of the XXI Century, Moscow, Russia; 2006 291-305.

    Gusev OA, Alekseev VR, Saigusa M, Okuda T, Sychev VN.  Molecular chaperones-related studies using latent stages of invertebrates exposed to space environment. Zoological Science. 2006; 23(12): 1227.

    Gusev OA, Okuda T, Sychev VN, Levinskikh MA, Sugimoto M.  Perspectives of RNA/DNA studies using latent stages of invertebrates and plants exposed to space flight and outer space environments. Space Utilization Research; 2007 344-346.

    Sychev VN, Levinskikh MA, Podolski IG, Novikova ND, Gostimsky SA, Alekseev VR, Bingham GE.  Main results of experiments investigating higher plants and dormant forms of organisms on the Russian segment of the International Space Station. Kosmonavtika i Raketostroenie (Cosmonautics and Rocket Engineering). 2007; 4(49): 54-64.

    Alekseev VR, Levinskikh MA, Sychev VN.  Impact of spaceflight conditions on the dormant stage of lower crustaceans, Akvarium experiments, Space Biology and Medicine. Moscow: Biomedical research on the ISS Russian segment; 2011.

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

    Alekseev VR, Sychev VN, Novikova ND.  Studying the Phenomenon of Dormancy: Why it is Important for Space Exploration. Dordrecht: Diapause in Aquatic Invertebrates Theory and Human Use; 2007.

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Related Websites
Energia - Science Research on the ISS Russian Segment

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