In March 2008 a Japanese astronaut - Takao Doi was part of the trip Endeavor - Programme Space Seed JAXA He had brought with him 2000 seeds of Ipomoea Nil Japonica and 6000 seeds of Lotus japonicus (leguminous plant).
These seeds are 6 months remained in the station.
In February 2010 Japan began a National experience of 2 years.(result : begin 2012 )
The seeds will be distributed to schools from primary (junior scientists ) to university - research , Botanical Museum and individuals will receive too.
They need YOU ! http://www.rarf.riken.go.jp/asagao/index.html
The contract stipulates that the project participant must send a report every 2 weeks and some photos.
The whole is overseen by a group of experts and follows a strickt protocol .
Late 2010 should harvest ,has to be sown again in 2011.
In total 6000 seeds will be distributed because they are 3 groups.
2000 seeds coming from space. 6 months of exposure to cosmic radiation.
2000 seeds which remained on a earth and used as control sample .
2000 seeds irradiated on earth in the cyclotron RIKEN in Bimufakutori - short =RI (radio - isotope)
The purpose of this program is to measure the effect of spacial radiation on the seeds and establish a basis for comparison.
They chose seeds because they have a high tolerance to environmental factors like radiation, temperature, drought and time .
These plants have a sexual reproduction with pairs of genes (diploid)
The variety chosen is a purple MG - stable and I guess well known.
MG were taken in space and with the return that was a catastrophe. The plant had no more their growth on the left. Since the fine bottom of their cells the live on earth need terrestrial gravity to continue growing normally. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7WpWnKi8aE
Wow! That's a pretty profound experiment. But for some reason I am not totally surprised at the results. Just watching how MG vines thrive (or not) in my own yard given certain growing conditions tells me a lot about this wonderful plant species!
Love those LED lighted cubicles that the plants are growing in. Space greenhouses?
The experience was trying to demonstrate that cosmic rays is an action on the genome by activation of transposons.
Initially they used a cultivar of G. highly stable and well known it's number 0007 nationnale collection of Kyushu University.
After 9 months of exposure to cosmic rays seeds are sown.
These plants bloom and produce seeds after self-fertilization. At this stage the plant has the appearance of the mother plant - no change!
Seeds produced are mutant seeds because it was during the REPRODUCTION that transposons are actived.
Why JAXA protocol asks the participants a weekly report (pictures - comments) if plants from seeds irradiated are identical to parent.Is there doubts on that level?
Second year seedlings of mutant seeds.
25% of the seeds give 100% mutant plants.
50% give half-mutant ??????????
25% of the seeds produce plants identical to parents and grandparents.
What is half-mutants ? recessive genes?
But then where is the difference between conventional hybridization and mutation by transposons?
The more I sink into this matter the more I have questions.LOL
Where the transposons are different from conventional hybridizing is in that the changes brought on by transposons are spontaneous are out of our control. Actually there is Plenty out of our control with hybridization. We just want to try things to nudge things along by choosing which parents will bear the seeds.
For example,we can`t ask the rain to stop and it stops unless it happens to be a rare coincidence! If we asked the rain to stop and it stopped One time then we couldn`t claim to have power over the weather unless it happened again and again without fail.It is the same thing with hybridizing experiments. Because we have so many things involving genes out of our control none of our findings will be carved in stone. We use the information as memory or experience knowing that some of the results could be brought on by chance or once in a lifetime occurances. It is curious,educated learning.
What if one of those Edo period Samurai that bred these mutants in the 1800s could have been in charge of this experiment? Might there have been a different outcome?*
Would he have sent fancy mutant MGs, as well as a plain one? Would he have sent whatever he used to produce his mutants along with his MGs into space for irradiation too?
Would he have used a larger sample base? 2000 seeds seems like a small number of seeds for this kind of experiment?
Would he have had his ninjas travel in a time machine and kidnap Dr. Nitasaka from Kyushu U where he has been researching the molecular biological mechanisms** that might have led to the MG mutants in the Kyushu U collection? Imagine what a Dream Team those two would have made! (This remark is not intended to be disrespectful to the Samurai and Dr. Nitasaka, as I am thankful for what they've done and do.)
Dany, thank you for keeping us posted on this experiment - maybe these flowers ain't that much to look at, but they sure do raise a ton of questions.
It's late, but today I'm playing hooky to start my MG seeds. Planting in ground with cross bars across garden paths, but will root tip cuttings so can ripen seed pods indoors after frost in cellar/grow lights.