January 1, 2003 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments


Year: 2003
Authors: Levine, H.G., Anderson, K., Boody, A., Cox, D., Kuznetsoti, O.A., Hasenstein, K.H.
Publication Name: Adv. Space Res.
Publication Details: Volume 31; Number 10; Pages 2261-2268


This experiment was conducted as part of a risk mitigation payload aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-101. The objectives were to test a newly developed water delivery system, and to determine the optimal combination of water volume and substrate for the imbibition and germination of flax (Linum usitatissimum) seeds in space. Two different combinations of germination paper were tested for their ability to absorb, distribute, and retain water in microgravity. A single layer of thick germination paper was compared with one layer of thin germination paper under a layer of thick paper. Paper strips were cut to fit snugly into seed cassettes, and seeds were glued to them with the micropyle ends pointing outward. Water was delivered in small increments that traveled through the paper via capillary action. Three water delivery volumes were tested, with the largest (480 mL) outperforming the 400 mL and 320 mL volumes for percent germination (90.6%) and root growth (mean = 4.1 mm) during the 34-hour spaceflight experiment. The ground control experiment yielded similar results, but with lower rates of germination (84.4%) and shorter root lengths (mean = 2.8 mm). It is not clear if the roots emerged more quickly in microgravity and/or grew faster than the ground controls. The single layer of thick germination paper generally exhibited better overall growth than the two layered option. Signfiant seed position effects were observed in both the flight and ground control experiments. Overall, the design of the water delivery system, seed cassettes and the germination paper strip concept was validated as an effective method for promoting seed germination and root growth under microgravity conditions. Author's Abstract.

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