Peering Into the Gray Cloud Using Spaceflown RNA

colinkruseColin Kruse, Wyatt Lab manager and researcher, is looking for genes not yet identified as related to gravity response in plants. To do this, Colin and Dr. Sarah Wyatt enlisted the help of NASA to germinate seedlings in microgravity conditions aboard the International Space Station. The spaceflown samples have since returned to earth and Colin will soon complete the next milestone in the NASA-sponsored BRIC-20 microgravity experiment. Using RNA extracted from spaceflown seedlings and ground controls, Colin hopes to  identify the genes involved in the plant signalling biochemical pathway.

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BRIC-20 Experiment Docked to Space Station

Photo: NASA TVThe SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying the Wyatt/ Luesse Labs BRIC-20 space experiment is now berthed to the Harmony module of the International Space Station. The hatch between the newly arrived spacecraft and the Harmony module of the space station is scheduled to be opened today. The capsule will spend four weeks attached to the station before returning to Earth with the Arabidopsis seedlings germinated in space for analysis.

For up-to-the-minute news on the mission from space, visit the Space Station Blog.

Also, visit the Wyatt Lab on Facebook for the latest from the scientists supporting the experiment from Earth.

 

Ready for Blast Off – Schedule, Activities, and Updates

_ready4scienceFollow the link below for the updated launch schedule and to learn about what the Gravitron Team is doing in preparation for BRIC-20 Blast Off. You too can get involved: sign up for email alerts, join the group call on launch day, and participate in the Athens launch of a scale model of the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket. Join the fun!

http://www.ohio-forum.com/2014/12/blast-off-t-minus-counting-team-gravitron-launch/

And if you’re on Facebook, you can find us here: https://www.facebook.com/WyattLabAtOhioUniversity

Ready for the Science: SpaceX CRS-5 to Launch 01/06/2015

Ready for the Science: The BRIC-20 space experiment has officially cleared the PVT project milestone and is scheduled to launch January 6th, 2014 at 2:31 EDT.

The BRIC-20 experiment will fly aboard the fifth SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services Flight (SpaceX CRS-5). Launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. SpaceX CRS-5 will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station, as well as our Arabidopsis thaliana seeds.

Stay tuned for updates. And in the meantime, you may learn more about the NASA mission here.

Anatomy of a Space Experiment

How to Send Your Experiment into Space: Anatomy of a Space Experiment

Scientists studying the effects of gravity face the difficulty of designing experiments that isolate the effects of gravity. Ideally, this means conducting an experiment in the absence of gravity – no easy task while on Earth. Certainly, the best place to run a long-term gravity experiment is space or while orbiting the Earth in microgravity conditions; however, getting your experiment into space might be as hard as neutralizing gravity on Earth. This is the dilemma Dr. Sarah Wyatt faced in the search for the genes controlling the signaling pathways of plants responding to changes in gravity.

When NASA Research sent out a call for research proposals for the International Space Station (ISS), Wyatt recognized an opportunity for the Wyatt Lab to take their gravitropism research to the next level. Perhaps you have an experiment you want to run aboard the ISS? Or maybe you just want to know what it takes to get on the ISS research roster. The following briefly describes some of the major milestones in designing and deploying an experiment in space.


Figure 1: NASA BRIC-20 Major Project Milestones

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Modeling Arabidopsis Responses to Microgravity

Dr. Sarah Wyatt and graduate student researcher Marilyn Hayden are converging their knowledge of genetic research and computer-assisted network analysis to build a novel computer model. The model will collectively present International Space Station (ISS) plant experiment data from the past 10 years. The meta-analysis will provide plant geneticists with a visual, interactive network model of the genes acting and interacting across the genome in response to microgravity conditions.NODEs

The network model is part of the Wyatt Lab’s current space-based research experiment, known as BRIC-20, and will include 47 space-based plant research projects conducted by international researchers aboard the ISS. Many international scientific journals have published some of the data, but a large portion of it has never been publicly available.

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Space Experiment Milestone

Since beginning work on the NASA sponsored space flight experiment, Wyatt Lab researchers have plated more than 70,000 Arabidopsis seeds. Many of the seeds were hand-counted, and all of them have been used to refine the RNA and protein extraction protocols for seedlings germinated in microgravity environments.

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Figure 1: Graduate researcher, Proma Basu, plates seeds in preparation for placement into a simulated BRIC environment. For the space-flown experiment, each plate contains 800 seeds.