Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study: Microgravity May Enhance Gene Transfer In Plants

Date:
April 20, 1999
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Transferring desirable genes into crops is a high-tech game of chance, with success rates running about one in 1,000. But the odds get a whole lot better, it seems, when you remove gravity from the mix.

MADISON - Transferring desirable genes into crops is a high-tech game of chance, with success rates running about one in 1,000. But the odds get a whole lot better, it seems, when you remove gravity from the mix.

Related Articles


An industry-sponsored research project aboard the Oct. 29 NASA Space Shuttle suggests that microgravity might enhance genetic engineering of plants. The project, coordinated by UW-Madison's Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR) , tested a unique technology that uses bacteria as a means for gene transfer.

"The level of genetic transfer from infection was way beyond our expectations," says Ray Bula, the retired director of WCSAR. "We thought if we could double the rate of transfer seen on earth, it would have been promising."

The increase in genetic transfer was more than 10-fold compared to a control experiment conducted on Earth, Bula says.

Collaborators in the mission include the Indiana Crop Improvement Association (ICIA), the Cross Plains, Wis. biotechnology firm Rapigen LLC and the University of Toledo. Researchers from Toledo developed the gene transfer process and the ICIA is interested in applying the results to new soybean crops.

Bula says the team is excited about the results, but cautioned that the experiment needs to be refined and repeated to ensure that the seedlings survive.

Toledo's process begins by slightly damaging the meristem region of plant seedlings. Next, a bacteria that carries the gene is placed in a solution around the plant. The bacteria provide the desired gene that is incorporated into the damaged cells. All subsequent plant parts derived from these meristem cells will carry the desired trait.

Normally, the bacteria simply die off without harming the plant. But the rate of infection was so high in microgravity that it blocked the vascular system of the plants. On future missions, Bula says the problem can be corrected in part by using less bacteria than is needed on earth.

Why are genes behaving differently in space? Bula says cell materials do not settle out in microgravity, which allows more freedom of movement. With a minimum of physical factors to limit the mobility of bacteria, Bula says, they hit their target more easily.

Gene transfer techniques are increasingly important to the agriculture industry, as it looks for faster and more selective alternatives to complement traditional plant breeding. Bula says that this growing season, genetically engineered varieties are expected to make up 70 percent of all soybeans planted nationally. "We will be growing crops in the future for more than just food, clothing or energy," says Bula. "Medical vaccines can be incorporated into plants to provide natural protection from disease. Genes that can make plants resistant to insects will greatly reduce chemical pesticide use."

The gene in this experiment was a marker gene, which is fluorescent and can be easily tracked. In future experiments, Bula says plans are to transfer a gene that has been shown to relieve certain human autoimmune diseases.

All the interest in conducting gene transfer in space is far from an academic exercise. Fully 30 percent of the International Space Station, now being assembled in orbit, is dedicated to private commercial use. Companies involved in plant genetic engineering are potential users of this new facility.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Study: Microgravity May Enhance Gene Transfer In Plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990420064955.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (1999, April 20). Study: Microgravity May Enhance Gene Transfer In Plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990420064955.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Study: Microgravity May Enhance Gene Transfer In Plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990420064955.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins