Arabidomics in Space

research area: biology

experiment title:

Arabidomics in Space

experiment acronym: Arabidomics

funding agency: DLR

grant number: DLR - Institut / 50WB1539

performing organization:

DLR - Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrtmedizin, Biomedizinische Forschung, Gravitationsbiologie, Köln /

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie /

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Institut für Biologie und Biotechnologie der Pflanzen

prime investigator:

PD Dr. Ruth Hemmersbach, Dr. Jens Hauslage /

Prof. Dr. Klaus Palme, Dr. Franck Ditengou /

Dr. Maik Böhmer

experiment objective


In the long term, it is aimed to modify plants by breeding or genetic engineering in a way that they can germinate, grow and reproduce under space conditions as optimal as possible, because they play an important role for the nutrition and the psychological well-being of humans and in the frame of bioregenerative life support systems. For space exploration and colonization, plants will be of high importance for oxygen production, CO2 recycling and as a primary or secondary food source. 

By this project we want to further contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms of gravity perception, signaling and adaptation in plants. It is already known that posttranslational modifications (phosphorylation etc.) of proteins are essential for a fast initial response to changes of the environment, which in turn activate or deactivate proteins before the de novo protein biosynthesis starts. Thus, we postulate that early phosphorylation events are fundamental processes initiating very fast responses towards changes of the gravitational vector. Understanding such kinds of changes in posttranslational modifications can elucidate the two most important enigmas in plant gravitational biology: The identification of the earliest gravitational vector perception network and perhaps the receptor itself, as well as responses and putative adaptations of plants subjected to altered gravity.

Our integrative approach to combine Arabidopsis transcriptome, proteome and metabolome analyses in responses to short and prolonged reduced gravity treatments [(9 s (drop tower) - 22 s (parabolic flight) – 5 min (sounding rocket) – up to 24 h (clinostat)] will essentially contribute to the early steps of gravity signaling in plants. Our experiments will be complemented by runs of samples under hypergravity.

Here, we apply to subject plants (Arabidopsis thaliana roots) to altered gravity conditions in the course of parabolic aircraft flights. After fixation, samples will be analysed in the homelab with respect to phosphorproteomical analyses. Results to be gained will be compared with data, which will be achieved using fast clinorotation (simulation of microgravity), centrifugation (hypergravity) and vibration on ground.

Thus, we aim to identify very rapid responses to microgravity induced by changes on kinase- induced phosphorylation events of proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana roots. So far, due to our knowledge, results on the very fast phosphorylation events in plants under stimulation by microgravity do not exist. Our newly developed hardware allows the flight of material sufficient for statistical analyses, providing fast fixation, which is necessary for the analyses proposed. Besides the biological experiment, we aim to test and compare two types of newly developed fixation-systems (one based on a pumping system, the other on syringes, see 4.) under microgravity conditions to make a final decision which one of them will be flown on the MAPHEUS 5 launch foreseen for May 2015. Furthermore we are evaluating different growth chambers for optimal fixative flow.

experiment campaigns

experiment year: 2016
number of drops: 4 (DLR - Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrtmedizin / Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
number of drops: 4 (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)

experiment year: 2014
number of drops: 6