China starts growing plants on its Tiangong space station

The first plants chosen are Arabidopsis thaliana. It is hoped to study the behavior of its genes in a microgravity environment in Tiangong .


An Arabidopsis thaliana plant that arrived at China’s Tiangong space station  on November 29 aboard the Shenzhou 15 manned spacecraft has started to grow.

About 20 hours after leaving Earth and arriving at the station, Chinese astronauts placed Arabidopsis thaliana in a biological incubator in the life and ecological experiment cabinet inside the space station’s Wentian laboratory module.

“We are using microgravity-grown Arabidopsis thaliana to explore how the space-based microgravity environment regulates the structure and function of plant cells,” said Cai Weiming, a researcher at the Center of Excellence for Molecular Plant Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. by Xinhua .

What will be investigated with space plants

The researchers made preparations on Earth for more than six years and hope that the orbiting experiment will promote the improvement of the shape of crop plants and help increase crop yields.

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

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

Cuando las muestras de plantas regresen a la Tierra, los investigadores estudiarán sistemáticamente los efectos de la microgravedad espacial en la biología de las plantas, mediante el análisis de ómicas y el análisis de correlación de experimentos de microgravedad simulados en tierra. (Europa Press)