(ORDO NEWS) — Which plants have the best chance of surviving in space? This issue is being explored by scientists Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert Furl in the study “Epigenetic Adaptation to Space Flight Conditions – Accumulated Genomic Changes Induced by Generations in Space” (Plant Habitat-03), which will soon be launched to the International Space Station by the 18th commercial mission of Northrop Grumman.
This study will take advantage of the unique environment aboard the space station to study one interesting phenomenon.
Under environmental stress, plants undergo amazing epigenetic changes. This means that instead of changing existing information in DNA, additional information is added that affects gene expression.
Whether these changes are transmitted from one generation of plants to the next, like the adaptive changes that occur in plants on Earth, remains unknown.
As part of the experiment, the seeds of terrestrial plants will be grown on board the space station, and then the crop will be harvested in orbit, which will return to Earth.
After that, the resulting seeds will again go into space, along with similar seeds that were not there before. This study aims to find out if plants can rapidly adapt to microgravity through epigenetic changes.
By examining the effects of extreme conditions on plants, scientists will be able to determine whether a growing generation of plants in space can create successive plant generations with a similar adaptive advantage.
“Plant Habitat-03 will provide a better understanding of how the epigenome contributes to the adaptation of the organism to environmental stressors both in the current and future generations,” said Sharmila Bhattacharya, NASA Space Biology Program Scientist.
“It’s important to understand how astronauts can potentially grow generations of crops in orbit, as well as on the Moon or Mars to feed future space missions.
The results can also help develop strategies for adapting crops to grow under extreme conditions on Earth.”
This study will allow scientists to better understand how biological phenomena change under the extreme conditions of space.
This information is important for future space exploration, including planned missions to the Moon and Mars.
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