Arabidopsis Thaliana Plant Aboard China’s Shenzhou-15 Begins Growing

“We are using the Arabidopsis thaliana plant grown in microgravity to explore how the space microgravity environment regulates plant cell structure and function,” said Cai Weiming.

Arabidopsis Thaliana Plant Aboard China's Shenzhou-15 Begins Growing

The Arabidopsis thaliana plant aboard China’s Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship has begun growing, China Science and Technology Daily reported on Monday.

The Shenzhou-15 spaceship was launched at 11:08 p.m. on November 29, 2022. About 20 hours later, Chinese astronauts placed the Arabidopsis thaliana plant in a biological incubator in the life and ecological experiment cabinet inside the Wentian lab module of China’s space station. The flight marked the tenth crewed Chinese spaceflight and the fifteenth flight of the Shenzhou program.

“We are using the Arabidopsis thaliana plant grown in microgravity to explore how the space microgravity environment regulates plant cell structure and function,” said Cai Weiming, a researcher with the Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The researchers made preparations on Earth for more than six years and are hoping that the in-orbit experiment will promote the improvement of crop plant shape and help increase crop yield.

During the space experiment, some Arabidopsis genes involved in gravity response will be modified and tagged, according to the newspaper. The researchers expect to study the genes’ behavior in the special microgravity environment to better understand their biological functions.

In the following 30 to 50 days, they will conduct automatic real-time monitoring of the morphology and development of wild, various mutant and transgenic plants in space microgravity, said Cai.

When the plant samples return to Earth, researchers will systematically study the effects of space microgravity on plant biology through the analysis of omics and the correlation analysis of simulated microgravity experiments on the ground.

The third batch of space scientific experimental samples, including the three cold packs of rice and Arabidopsis and a bag with four boxes of container-free materials, from China’s Tiangong space station arrived in Beijing on Monday, following the return of the Shenzhou-14 crew.

Originally published at CGTN

 

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