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Plant Physiol. 1996 Mar;110(3):801-6.

Growth and photosynthetic responses of wheat plants grown in space.

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  • 1National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and The Dynamac Corporation, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.


Growth and photosynthesis of wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv Super Dwarf) plants grown onboard the space shuttle Discovery for 10 d were examined. Compared to ground control plants, the shoot fresh weight of space-grown seedlings decreased by 25%. Postflight measurements of the O2 evolution/photosynthetic photon flux density response curves of leaf samples revealed that the CO2-saturated photosynthetic rate at saturating light intensities in space-grown plants declined 25% relative to the rate in ground control plants. The relative quantum yield of CO2-saturated photosynthetic O2 evolution measured at limiting light intensities was not significantly affected. In space-grown plants, the light compensation point of the leaves increased by 33%, which likely was due to an increase (27%) in leaf dark-respiration rates. Related experiments with thylakoids isolated from space-grown plants showed that the light-saturated photosynthetic electron transport rate from H2O through photosystems II and I was reduced by 28%. These results demonstrate that photosynthetic functions are affected by the microgravity environment.

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