A PLANT GENETIC ASSESSMENT AND CONTROL SYSTEM FOR SPACE
ENVIRONMENTS. T.L. Lomax and W.E. Winner. Dept. of
Botany & Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis.
will play an essential role in providing life support for any long-term space
exploration. Plant growth in space
environments requires an adaptable system that measures the response of plants
to any unique space condition, optimizes plant performance under those
conditions, and provides cues for changing environmental factors.
We are exploring designs for a flexible module that will monitor plant
responses to environmental changes by combining emerging technologies in the
fields of plant genomics, microarray analysis of gene expression, bioinformatics,
and whole plant physiology.
key to our approach is to use microarray analysis to monitor genetic activity
for plants growing in defined environments.
The project exploits the completed sequences of two plant genomes (Arabidopsis
and rice) that are now available, and the many plant genome sequences that will
be known for other species in the future. The
expression of plant genes can be evaluated using microarray technology that
simultaneously measures the responses of thousands of plant genes to
environmental change. Expression of
specific plant genes will increase and decrease as plants regulate physiological
processes to compensate for environmental changes. By systematically monitoring
changes in gene expression and environmental factors, the physiological status
of plants is defined. Environmental adjustments can then be made to alter gene
expression, thereby controlling plant processes needed for growth and other life
additions to the architecture will include the technical advances necessary for
remote collection and evaluation of data. In addition, we are studying the major
feasibility issues associated with cost, performance, development time, and key
technology issues for developing the module for NASA. The research is being
carried out in Phase II of a project funded by the NASA Institute for Advanced