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We have performed a seed-to-seed experiment in the cell biology experiment facility (CBEF) installed in the Kibo (Japanese Experiment Module) in the International Space Station. The CBEF has a 1 × g compartment on a centrifuge and a microgravity compartment, to investigate the effects of microgravity on the vegetative and reproductive growth of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. Seeds germinated irrespective of gravitational conditions after water supply on board. Thereafter, seedlings developed rosette leaves. The time of bolting was slightly earlier under microgravity than under space 1 × g. Microgravity enhanced the growth rate of peduncles as compared with space 1 × g or ground control. Plants developed flowers, siliques and seeds, completing their entire life cycle during 62-days cultivation. Although the flowering time was not significantly affected under microgravity, the number of flowers in a bolted plant significantly increased under microgravity as compared with space 1 × g or ground control. Microscopic analysis of reproductive organs revealed that the longitudinal length of anthers was significantly shorter under microgravity when compared with space 1 × g, while the length of pistils and filaments was not influenced by the gravitational conditions. Seed mass significantly increased under microgravity when compared with space 1 × g. In addition, seeds produced in space were found not to germinate on the ground. These results indicate that microgravity significantly influenced the reproductive development of Arabidopsis plants even though Earth's gravitational environment is not absolutely necessary for them to complete their life cycle.


Ichirou Karahara, Takamichi Suto, Takashi Yamaguchi, Umi Yashiro, Daisuke Tamaoki, Emi Okamoto, Sachiko Yano, Fumiaki Tanigaki, Toru Shimazu, Haruo Kasahara, Hirokazu Kasahara, Mitsuhiro Yamada, Takayuki Hoson, Kouichi Soga, Seiichiro Kamisaka. Vegetative and reproductive growth of Arabidopsis under microgravity conditions in space. Journal of plant research. 2020 Jul;133(4):571-585

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PMID: 32424466

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