ASGSB 2003 Annual Meeting Abstracts


ANALYSIS OF BRASSICA RAPA VEGETATIVE AND REPRODUCTIVE MATERIAL PRODUCED ON ISS. A. Kuang1, M.E. Musgrave2, and R. Morrow3 1Biology Department, University of Texas Pan American, Edinburg, TX; 2Department of Plant Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 06269; and 3Orbital Technologies Inc., Madison, WI.

   During a hardware test of the Biomass Production System plant growth hardware on ISS, Brassica rapa cv. Astroplants were grown, pollinated, and seeds were produced prior to harvest at 39 days after planting. The material was frozen or fixed on orbit and subsequently analyzed in our laboratories.  Gross measures of growth showed comparable performance by the plants in spaceflight and ground control treatments. Amounts of chlorophyll, starch and soluble carbohydrates in leaf tissue frozen on orbit were indistinguishable from the ground control.  Despite comparable vegetative growth in 1-g and microgravity, attributes of the immature seeds produced during spaceflight and fixed or frozen in flight were significantly different from the ground controls. Because we had access to frozen material, it was possible for the first time to perform biochemical analyses on immature seed tissue that had been produced in microgravity. The immature seeds from the spaceflight treatment had higher concentrations of chlorophyll, starch, and soluble carbohydrates than the ground controls.  Seed protein was significantly lower in the spaceflight material. Microscopy of immature seeds fixed in flight showed embryos to be at a range of developmental stages, while the ground control embryos had all reached the premature stage of development. Storage reserve deposition was more advanced in the ground control seeds. The results demonstrate that although vegetative growth of the Brassica plants was well supported by the BPS hardware, the spaceflight environment poses special problems for development inside closed reproductive structures.

(Supported by NASA and Orbitec)


Back to Program) Back to Meeting Program