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Germination and elongation of flax in microgravityThis experiment was conducted as part of a risk mitigation payload aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-101. The objectives were to test a newly developed water delivery system, and to determine the optimal combination of water volume and substrate for the imbibition and germination of flax (Linum usitatissimum) seeds in space. Two different combinations of germination paper were tested for their ability to absorb, distribute, and retain water in microgravity. A single layer of thick germination paper was compared with one layer of thin germination paper under a layer of thick paper. Paper strips were cut to fit snugly into seed cassettes, and seeds were glued to them with the micropyle ends pointing outward. Water was delivered in small increments that traveled through the paper via capillary action. Three water delivery volumes were tested, with the largest (480 microliters) outperforming the 400 microliters and 320 microliters volumes for percent germination (90.6%) and root growth (mean=4.1 mm) during the 34-hour spaceflight experiment. The ground control experiment yielded similar results, but with lower rates of germination (84.4%) and shorter root lengths (mean=2.8 mm). It is not clear if the roots emerged more quickly in microgravity and/or grew faster than the ground controls. The single layer of thick germination paper generally exhibited better overall growth than the two layered option. Significant seed position effects were observed in both the flight and ground control experiments. Overall, the design of the water delivery system, seed cassettes and the germination paper strip concept was validated as an effective method for promoting seed germination and root growth under microgravity conditions. c2003 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Levine, Howard G. (NASA Kennedy Space Center Cocoa Beach FL United States)
Anderson, Ken
Boody, April
Cox, Dave
Kuznetsov, Oleg A.
Hasenstein, Karl H.
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Advances in space research : the official journal of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)
Volume: 31
Issue: 10
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Non-NASA Center
NASA Program Fundamental Space Biology
NASA Discipline Life Support Systems
NASA Program Advanced Human Support Technology
NASA Discipline Plant Biology