Blogs by Ann Massey
Plants light up on the International Space Station
5/7/2013 3:09:26 PM
Advanced biological research on board the International Space Station may tell us how well plants will adapt to the challenges of climate change. Plants are often seen as passive passengers on the earth’s surface - And yet they were instrumental in creating the eco system. Without vegetation the Earth would be returned to the era when water flooded over Earth’s landmasses.
Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) which has been grown in an experimental chamber on board the space station was genetically modified to give off an eerie green glow under stress. This is not a mere novelty. The glow has a serious purpose. Plants were subjected to extremes of pressure, temperature and drought, (some extremes can only be found in space). By watching parts of the plant light up scientists were able to track cellular changes.
Reassuringly Thale Cress has shown it can adapt to the space environment. Which begs the question: did the seeds of plant life arrive on Earth from space?
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