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Advances in Space Research
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 46  |  Issue: 10  |  Page No.: 1249 - 1256

Ground testing of Arabidopsis preservation protocol for the microarray analysis to be used in the ISS EMCS Multigen-2 experiment

Ann-Iren Kittang, Brita Kvaloy, Per Winge and Tor-Henning Iversen    

Abstract: Gene expression analysis using microarrays has proved to be an important method in life science. The opportunity to grow higher plants on the International Space Station (ISS) opens up the possibility for gene expression profiling of plants grown in microgravity. The work presented focuses on how to meet the scientific requirements of plant growth and the sample preservation, given the technical and operational constraints associated with space research. The growth chamber (Multigen-2 Science Testing Unit) and a protocol suggested to be used in the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) Multigen-2 experiment on the ISS to grow and later preserve Arabidopsis seedlings, were tested on ground. The results showed that most of the plants developed normally. In order to avoid high population stress the number of seedlings per growth area should be reduced. The RNAlater preservation method to be used in the space experiment was compared with a quick freeze in Liquid Nitrogen (LN2). The RNA from samples preserved in RNAlater at room temperature for 24 h was slightly more degraded than the RNA from the LN2 preserved samples (RNA integrity number, RIN: 7.7 and 8.6, respectively). However, the RNA quality and quantity was satisfactory for microarray analysis. Of the genes analysed, 74 genes (0.28%) were significantly differentially expressed, most of them showing moderate to low regulation. Among the genes induced in the RNAlater preserved samples, three salt inducible transcription factors (ZAT10, SZF1 and SZF2) were identified, suggesting that the high salt concentration in RNAlater causes salt stress before the transcription stopped. In conclusion, the Multigen-2 preservation protocol tested here will allow for the genes regulated by microgravity in the space experiment to be revealed. The results do indicate that not all the biological processes are stopped instantly by the RNAlater. The limited diffusion indirectly caused by the microgravity may potentially result in a different degree of salt stress in the test compared to the 1 x g control during the space experiment. This has to be accounted for during the evaluation of the results. Since slightly degraded RNA was observed, further optimalisation of the preservation protocol will be performed.

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