Growth Potency of Statoconia (Otoliths) in the Organ of Equilibrium of Gastropod Mollusks in Weightlessness (Statoconia (Otoconium)) - 10.25.17

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Statokonia (Statoconia) investigates the development of gravity sensing organs called statoconia in snails. Snails use these organs to sense gravity and are responsible for the snail's normal preference for downward crawling on a vertical plate on Earth. Earlier studies have shown that snails that hatch and develop in space will form larger statoconia to compensate for the reduced gravity levels there.
Science Results for Everyone
Great gravity-detecting gastropods! Snails use organs called statoconia to sense gravity and to crawl down a vertical surface. This investigation found that the size of the organ depends on gravitational force, increasing in weightlessness and decreasing as gravity increases. The work produced new information on the structure and elemental composition of stataconia, and the location of the organ’s sensitive cells in addition to its mass in two types of snails. With this information, researchers will be able to use these snails as models in future space biology studies.

The following content was provided by G. I. Gorgiladze, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
G. I. Gorgiladze, Ph.D., Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of Russian Academy of Sciences (IMBP RAS), 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
October 2004 - October 2007

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
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Experiment Description

Research Overview
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Study of ultrastructure, composition by elements and morphometry of statokonias. Study of statokonia regeneration and growth.

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Space Applications
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Earth Applications
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Operational Requirements and Protocols
Ulitka Incubator, ART Pouch.
Bring Snails into microgravity environment for an extended period of time, then return to Earth.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

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Results/More Information

The most significant results of the experiment: the discovery that the test mass in the organ of balance depended on the extent of the gravitational field; mass increased under conditions of weightlessness and decreased under conditions of increased gravity. Furthermore, this phenomenon is of an adaptive nature, appearing in the restoration of the normal picture during the readaptation period to the Earth’s gravitational force. New information was obtained on the morphology, elemental composition, and test mass ultrastructure in the organ of balance in the 2 types of gastropods. The hypothesis was put forward that statoconia nuclei occur in the sensitive cells of the statocyst, and then are imported into its cavity. The topography of the sensitive cells of the statocyst was established. The information obtained on the structural organization of the organ of balance/statocyst of H. lucorum and P. rivulare enable these objects to be used as models in studies in the field of gravitational (space) biology.

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Results Publications

    Gorgiladze GI.  Regenerative capacity of the planarian Girardia tigrina and the snail Helix lucorum exposed to microgravity during an orbital flight on board the international space station    . Doklady Biological Sciences. 2008 08/20/2008; 421(1): 244-247. DOI: 10.1134/S0012496608040078. [Original Russian Text © G.I. Gorgiladze, 2008, published in Doklady Akademii Nauk, 2008, Vol. 421, No. 1, pp. 131–134.]

    Gorgiladze GI.  Morphological features of the inertial mass in statocysts of the terrestrial gastropods Helix lucorum and Pomatias rivulare exposed to microgravity    . Doklady Biological Sciences. 2010 08/17/2010; 433(1): 271-274. DOI: 10.1134/S0012496610040101. [Original Russian Text © G.I. Gorgiladze, 2010, published in Doklady Akademii Nauk, 2010, Vol. 433, No. 4, pp. 566–569.]

    Gorgiladze GI, Bukiya RD, Davitashvili MT, Kalandarishvili EL, Taktakishvili AD, Gelashvili NS, Madzhagaladze NB, Kiladze MT, Sokolov NG.  The destructive impact of increased gravitational force on the inertial mass in statocysts of Helix lucorum. Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences. 2006; 406(3): 416-418.

    Gorgiladze GI, Bukiya RD, Davitashvili MT, Taktakishvili AD, Gelashvili NS, Kalandarishvili EL, Satdykova GP.  Morphological Peculiarities Statoconia in Statocysts of Terrestrial Pulmonary Snail Helix Lucorum  . Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine. 2010 July 17; 149(2): 269-272. DOI: 10.1007/s10517-010-0924-1. [Translated from Byulleten’ Eksperimental’noi Biologii i Meditsiny, Vol. 149, No. 2, pp. 236–240, February, 2010]

    Bukiya RD, Taktakishvili AD, Kalandarishvili EL, Gorgiladze GI.  Morphological features of the cellular components of the statocyst in the land snail Helix lucorum. Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences. 2005; 31(6): 815-822.

    Bukiya RD, Gorgiladze GI, Taktakishvili AD, Kalandarishvili EL.  Light and electron microscopy of cellular components in statocysts of the land snail Helix lucorum. Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences: Biological Series. 2010.

    Gorgiladze GI, Bukiya RD, Kozyrev SA, Kalandarishvili EL.  Structural/functional organization of the statocyst in Helix lucorum in normal conditions and conditions of a changing gravitational field. XIII Conference Space Biology and Aerospace Medicine, Moscow, Russia; 2006 June 13-16 81-82.

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

    Balaban PM, Malyshev AY, Ierusalimsky VN, Aseyev N, Korshunova TA, Bravarenko NI, Lemak MS, Roshchin M, Zakharov IS, Popova Y, Boyle RD.  Functional Changes in the Snail Statocyst System Elicited by Microgravity. PLOS ONE. 2011 03/29/2011; 6(3): e17710. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017710.

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Related Websites
Energia - Science Research on the ISS Russian Segment

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