Effect of simulated and real weightlessness on early regeneration stages ofBrassica napusprotoplasts

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SummaryResults from experiments using protoplasts in space, performed on the Biokosmos 9 satellite in 1989 and on the Space Shuttle on the IML-1-mission in 1992 and S/MM-03 in 1996, are presented. This paper focuses on the observation that the regeneration capacity of protoplasts is lower under micro-g conditions than under 1 g conditions. These aspects have been difficult to interpret and raise new questions about the mechanisms behind the observed effects. In an effort to try to find a key element to the poor regeneration capacity, ground-based studies were initiated focusing on the effect of the variable organization and quantity of corticular microtubules (CMTs) as a consequence of short periods of real and simulated weightlessness. The new results demonstrated the capacity of protoplasts to enter division, confirming the findings in space that this was affected by gravity. The percentage of dividing cells significantly decreased as a result of exposure to simulated weightlessness on a 2-D clinostat. Similar observations were made when comparing the wall components, which confirmed that the reconstitution of the cell wall was retarded under both space conditions and simulated weightlessness. The peroxidase activity in protoplasts exposed to microgravity was slightly decreased in both 0 g and 1 g flight samples compared with the ground controls, whereas activity in the protoplasts exposed to simulated weightlessness was similar to activity in the 1 g control. The observation that protoplasts had randomized and more sparse corticular microtubules when exposed to various forms of simulated and real weightlessness on a free-fall machine on the ground could indicate that the low division capacity in 0 g protoplasts was correlated with an abnormal CMT array in these protoplasts. This study has increased our knowledge of the more basic biochemical and cell biological aspects of g effects. This is an important link in preparation for the new space era, when it will be possible to follow the growth of single cells and tissue cultures for generations under microgravity conditions on the new International Space Station, which will be functional on a permanent basis from the year 2003.

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