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Plant Physiol. 2001 Jun;126(2):613-21.

Transgene expression patterns indicate that spaceflight affects stress signal perception and transduction in arabidopsis.

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Program in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.
U FL, Gainesville


The use of plants as integral components of life support systems remains a cornerstone of strategies for long-term human habitation of space and extraterrestrial colonization. Spaceflight experiments over the past few decades have refined the hardware required to grow plants in low-earth orbit and have illuminated fundamental issues regarding spaceflight effects on plant growth and development. Potential incipient hypoxia, resulting from the lack of convection-driven gas movement, has emerged as a possible major impact of microgravity. We developed transgenic Arabidopsis containing the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene promoter linked to the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene to address specifically the possibility that spaceflight induces the plant hypoxia response and to assess whether any spaceflight response was similar to control terrestrial hypoxia-induced gene expression patterns. The staining patterns resulting from a 5-d mission on the orbiter Columbia during mission STS-93 indicate that the Adh/GUS reporter gene was activated in roots during the flight. However, the patterns of expression were not identical to terrestrial control inductions. Moreover, although terrestrial hypoxia induces Adh/GUS expression in the shoot apex, no apex staining was observed in the spaceflight plants. This indicates that either the normal hypoxia response signaling is impaired in spaceflight or that spaceflight inappropriately induces Adh/GUS activity for reasons other than hypoxia.

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