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Sex at zero gravity
Date:3/13/2013

cted by a change in gravity is poorly understood."

The cells were placed into a large centrifuge, along with a camera attached to a microscope, enabling the researchers to track in real time how the cells develop in the intense gravity generated by the centrifuge. "Thanks to the facilities at the European Space Agency, I was able to determine how hypergravity and simulated microgravity affect the intracellular trafficking in the rapidly growing pollen tube," explained Dr. Youssef Chebli, a researcher in Geitmann's lab. "We chose pollen, the carrier of the male sperm cells, as our model because of its pivotal role in plant reproduction and agriculture and because of its extraordinarily rapid growth, meaning that we could observe the effects of the hypergravity within seconds."

The researchers stained specific structures within the cells, which revealed how the cellular components move around and how the cellular transport logistics responds to the changing gravity environment. "We found that intracellular traffic flow is compromised under hyper-gravity conditions and that both hyper and microgravity affect the precisely coordinated construction of the cellular envelope in the growing cell," Chebli said. "This allows us not only to understand general principles of the reproductive mechanism in plants but, more importantly, how the intracellular transport machinery in eukaryotic cells responds to altered gravity conditions. Our findings have implications for human health as similar effects are likely to occur in human cells such as neurons where long distance intracellular transport is crucial."

Chebli and Geitmann's study will be published in the journal PLOS ONE on March 13, 2013. Link: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0058246


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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert  

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1. How plants sense gravity -- a new look at the roles of genetics and the cytoskeleton
2. What happens to plant growth when you remove gravity?
3. GOCEs second mission improving gravity map
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