Washington: To understand what happens to plants when there is no gravity, researchers are now set to study 1,000 plant seedlings grown in space.
Researchers from University of Wisconsin recently welcomed the delivery of the plant seedlings from the International Space Station.
The plants grown in space will be frozen and their RNA will be extracted for analysis.
“(What we want to know is) what happens when you remove gravity, because that might give us the mechanism that plants on the ground use to weigh themselves and respond to gravitational forces,” said Simon Gilroy from University of Wisconsin.
Plant research in space is the key to understanding how they function on earth, Gilroy noted.
In the experiment funded through a grant by NASA, the researchers are first seeking to understand the alterations in genetic control in plants that grow in a microgravity environment.
The second component of the team’s experiment, dubbed by NASA as geneLAB, is a program in which Gilroy’s team will publish raw data consisting of patterns of genes in the plants that grew in space.
The time required for the extraction and analysis of RNA will take roughly three to six months, when the data set will become available to the public using a new “open source” method.