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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 547495, 15 pages
Research Article

A Whole-Genome Microarray Study of Arabidopsis thaliana Semisolid Callus Cultures Exposed to Microgravity and Nonmicrogravity Related Spaceflight Conditions for 5 Days on Board of Shenzhou 8

1Physiological Ecology of Plants, University of Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 1, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
2Center for Bioinformatics, University of Tübingen, Sand 14, 72076 Tübingen, Germany

Received 8 May 2014; Revised 26 August 2014; Accepted 9 September 2014

Academic Editor: Monica Monici

Copyright © 2015 Svenja Fengler et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Simbox mission was the first joint space project between Germany and China in November 2011. Eleven-day-old Arabidopsis thaliana wild type semisolid callus cultures were integrated into fully automated plant cultivation containers and exposed to spaceflight conditions within the Simbox hardware on board of the spacecraft Shenzhou 8. The related ground experiment was conducted under similar conditions. The use of an in-flight centrifuge provided a 1 g gravitational field in space. The cells were metabolically quenched after 5 days via RNAlater injection. The impact on the Arabidopsis transcriptome was investigated by means of whole-genome gene expression analysis. The results show a major impact of nonmicrogravity related spaceflight conditions. Genes that were significantly altered in transcript abundance are mainly involved in protein phosphorylation and MAPK cascade-related signaling processes, as well as in the cellular defense and stress responses. In contrast to short-term effects of microgravity (seconds, minutes), this mission identified only minor changes after 5 days of microgravity. These concerned genes coding for proteins involved in the plastid-associated translation machinery, mitochondrial electron transport, and energy production.