twittertopbarlinks_eventstopbarlinks_requesttopbarlinks_archives
NCMA Algae Tips
Click here for more information about Liqofluxphenometrics515R1
Visit cricatalyst.com!Commercial Algae Professionals spacer

Research

Researching algae in space and extreme environments

June 1, 2014 — by Dennis O’Brien
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Soyez rocket launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

Soyez rocket launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

By sending algae into space, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist and his team will be able to study some of the key mechanisms that control plant growth and photosynthesis.

The work by plant physiologist Autar Mattoo with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is part of an international effort, largely funded by the European Space Agency, to improve the photosynthetic machinery of crops so they produce higher yields and grow in extreme environments. Mattoo works at the ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.

Autar Mattoo

Plant physiologist Autar Mattoo analyzes the algae data during the space flight. The screen on the right shows the crystal structure of the D1 protein with muta-tion sites. Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

During photosynthesis, a protein-pigment complex known as Photosystem II (PS II) must constantly be repaired to fix damage caused by sunlight and ultraviolet radiation. As part of that repair process, a protein known as D1 is continuously being replaced. Research has shown that mutations of the D1 protein in the PS II complex can either increase or decrease photosynthetic activity.

Giuseppina Rea

At the Institute of Crystallography in Rome, Italy, Giuseppina Rea selects algae cultures for the space flight. Photo by Maria Teresa Giardi.

The researchers wanted to assess the effects of microgravity, cosmic rays, high-energy particles and the ionizing radiation of space on the PS II complex, photosynthesis and plant growth. They also wanted to see if the effects would differ in a simple model for photosynthesis, an alga, with the D1 gene altered in specific ways.

The researchers placed samples of the alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in airtight “photo cells” and had them launched in a Russian-made Soyuz space capsule in Kazakhstan. The C. reinhardtii, often studied as a model for photosynthesis, spent 15 days in orbit getting doses of cosmic radiation while under light and temperature conditions that would ensure growth on earth. They also sent up four mutants of C. reinhardtii with alterations in the D1 protein gene.

Baikonur Cosmodrome

Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz rocket is being prepared for launch. The Foton-M2 capsule containing the mutant algae samples is held in the green nose of the rocket. Photo courtesy of European Space Agency.

They found that some aspect of the space environment inhibited the ability of the control C. reinhardtii and two of the four mutant strains to photosynthesize and grow, both in space and later when they were brought back to Earth. However, two other mutant strains flourished, both in space and when they returned to Earth. The results, published in PLOS ONE, shed new light on the importance of the D1 protein both in photosynthesis and as a target of environmental signals.

Read More

More Like This…

HOME A.I.M. Archives

Copyright ©2010-2014 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) and engineers at Salt River Project (SRP), one of the nation's largest public power utilities, are conducting joint research...
The last post positioned algae solutions for bioremediation of poisoned water and soil that can reduce the risk of arsenic exposure and the onset of autism spectrum disor...
A multiple-effect evaporator (MEE) is a system designed for efficiently using the heat from steam to evaporate water. This equipment is recommended by pollution control a...
Tyler Treadway of TCPalm reports on technology joining the fight in response to the Florida algae blooms. He watches, as water from a boat basin topped with several inche...
Cheryl Katz writes in National Geographic that Iceland’s last living lake balls are disappearing. The fluffy green supersize diatoms as large as a head of cabbage are one...
Haley Gray reports for 5280.com that Upslope Brewing Company, in Boulder, Colorado, is one step closer to its goal of becoming a zero-waste brewery. The craft beer maker ...