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The Effect of Spaceflight on Transgenic Arabidopsis Plants With Compromised Signaling (ARC00XX48)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Plant biology
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Arabidopsis thaliana Species: Cress, mouse-ear


Plants provide a complete and economical means for human life support for long-term space exploration and habitation. However, since the space environment is not optimal for plant growth, an understanding of how plants sense and respond to changes in their environment is of fundamental importance. The phosphoinositide (PI) pathway is highly conserved among eukaryotes and functions in the regulation of a multitude of cellular pathways. The lipid-derived second messenger inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) increases in response to many different stresses. We have shown that InsP3 levels increase with gravistimulation prior to visible bending in both monocot and dicot systems. We have generated transgenic Arabidopsis plants expressing the mammalian type I inositol polyphosphate 5-phosphatase (InsP 5-ptase), an enzyme that specifically hydrolyzes InsP3 and terminates the signal. The transgenic plants have normal growth and morphology; however, they exhibit altered responses to many environmental stimuli including gravity, drought, and cold. While rapid changes in transcript levels occur in wild type Arabidopsis within 5 min of gravistimulation, the expression of several of the fastest responding genes does not change in the InsP 5-ptase roots in response to reorientation.

Our hypothesis is that InsP3 is an important second messenger in the sensing and signaling of stimuli (including gravity). The plants with compromised InsP3 signaling therefore provide a valuable tool for dissecting the role of the InsP3 pathway in plant responses to the microgravity environment encountered on the International Space Station.

The long term goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms plants use to sense and respond to changes in their environment. This knowledge will help design plants which are better able to withstand space flight and microgravity conditions on long-term missions.

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Dalal J, Land E, Vasani N, He L, Smith C, Rodriguez-Welsh M, Perera IY, Sederoff H. "Methods for RNA profiling of gravi-responding plant tissues." Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1309:91-117. (In: Plant Gravitropism: Methods and Protocols. E.B. Blancaflor, editor. New York: Springer, 2015.)

Agricultural Irrigation
Genes, plant
Genetically Modified Plants
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. No data sets are available for this experiment. Please Contact LSDA if you know of available data for this investigation.

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
STS-135 07/08/2011 07/21/2011 13 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Ames Research Center (ARC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Ames Research Center LSDA Level 3
Project Manager: Helen Stewart
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2012 Space Biology NNH12Z