Space Life Science

Detection of Plant Genes Involved In Radiation Response

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 25, 2021
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Detection of Plant Genes Involved In Radiation Response
Astronaut Peggy Whitson works with experimental plants grown in the Veggie systems on ISS.

Plants will be a major component of advanced life support systems to enable deep space exploration that will take humans to the moon, Mars and beyond.

In a newly-published paper, scientists analyzed plant datasets from real and simulated spaceflight studies to identify the transcription factors involved in the response to radiation and other stressors. Advanced network analysis and machine learning approaches were used to detect key genes involved in DNA damage response (DDR) and their links with genes involved in spaceflight stress responses in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Findings indicate that DDR processes are intermixed with the regulation of critical functions necessary for the plant to adapt to the spaceflight environment.

Organisms in space are exposed to radiation, which affects the health of humans and the anatomy and growth of plants and animals. Plants are affected by radiation resulting in damage to cellular components and damage to Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). Exposure to radiation causes DNA lesions in plant cells such as single-stranded breaks, Double Strand Breaks (DSB), mismatches, and modified bases. This leads to DNA Damage Response (DDR) that includes signal transduction, triggering either DNA repair, cell survival, or cell death.

GeneLab datasets were analyzed for this study. Detection of Genes in Arabidopsis thaliana L. Responding to DNA Damage from Radiation and Other Stressors in Spaceflight


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