Magazine article E Magazine

Moon Plants

Magazine article E Magazine

Moon Plants

Article excerpt

Plants don't need gravity to grow, according to a new study out of the University of Florida (UF). When study authors Anna Lisa Paul and Robert Ferl of UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences monitored images of small, white Arabidopsis thaliana seeds growing both on Earth and in nutrientrich gel in zero-gravity orbit, they found that both sets of seeds--exposed to the same temperature and environmental conditions--sprouted roots with identical, standard patterns of growth: waving and skewing. Waving is the process by which root tips grow back and forth. Skewing occurs when a plant's roots grow at an angle rather than a straight vertical line. Both behaviors have previously been linked to gravity.

"The skewing and waving of roots has always been thought to be dependent on gravity, but as the images from our experiment started to come down from the International Space Station in early 2010, it was clear that gravity was not required after all," Paul said in a UF media release. …

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