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Open AccessArticle

Rocket Science: The Effect of Spaceflight on Germination Physiology, Ageing, and Transcriptome of Eruca sativa Seeds

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, UK
2
Plant Cell Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Marburg, 35043 Marburg, Germany
3
Official Seed Testing Station for Scotland, SASA, Edinburgh EH12 9FJ, UK
4
Tozer Seeds Ltd, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3EH, UK
5
Science Department, Royal Horticultural Society, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB, UK
6
Laboratory of Growth Regulators, Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Institute of Experimental Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Palaćky University, 78371 Olomouc, Czech Republic
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Life 2020, 10(4), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10040049
Received: 9 March 2020 / Revised: 19 April 2020 / Accepted: 20 April 2020 / Published: 24 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers of Astrobiology)
In the ‘Rocket Science’ project, storage of Eruca sativa (salad rocket) seeds for six months on board the International Space Station resulted in delayed seedling establishment. Here we investigated the physiological and molecular mechanisms underpinning the spaceflight effects on dry seeds. We found that ‘Space’ seed germination vigor was reduced, and ageing sensitivity increased, but the spaceflight did not compromise seed viability and the development of normal seedlings. Comparative analysis of the transcriptomes (using RNAseq) in dry seeds and upon controlled artificial ageing treatment (CAAT) revealed differentially expressed genes (DEGs) associated with spaceflight and ageing. DEG categories enriched by spaceflight and CAAT included transcription and translation with reduced transcript abundances for 40S and 60S ribosomal subunit genes. Among the ‘spaceflight-up’ DEGs were heat shock proteins (HSPs), DNAJ-related chaperones, a heat shock factor (HSFA7a-like), and components of several DNA repair pathways (e.g., ATM, DNA ligase 1). The ‘response to radiation’ category was especially enriched in ‘spaceflight-up’ DEGs including HSPs, catalases, and the transcription factor HY5. The major finding from the physiological and transcriptome analysis is that spaceflight causes vigor loss and partial ageing during air-dry seed storage, for which space environmental factors and consequences for seed storage during spaceflights are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; food security; low Earth orbit; salad rocket (Eruca sativa); seed germination; spaceflight transcriptomes; seed ageing; seeds in space; seed storage; seed vigor climate change; food security; low Earth orbit; salad rocket (Eruca sativa); seed germination; spaceflight transcriptomes; seed ageing; seeds in space; seed storage; seed vigor
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  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bioproject/?term=PRJNA606141
    Description: NCBI Sequence Read Archive (SRA) with BioProject number PRJNA606141 for the transcriptome raw data 18 RNA-seq samples. Release date is April 2020. If a reviewer link is needed, please asked for it.
  • Externally hosted supplementary file 2
    Doi: 10.17637/rh.11872515
    Link: https://figshare.com/s/3b89feed12a060c3764a
    Description: The transcripts fasta file is available online through figshare depository doi: 10.17637/rh.11872515 Private link: https://figshare.com/s/3b89feed12a060c3764a (for review purposes only)
MDPI and ACS Style

Chandler, J.O.; Haas, F.B.; Khan, S.; Bowden, L.; Ignatz, M.; Enfissi, E.M.A.; Gawthrop, F.; Griffiths, A.; Fraser, P.D.; Rensing, S.A.; Leubner-Metzger, G. Rocket Science: The Effect of Spaceflight on Germination Physiology, Ageing, and Transcriptome of Eruca sativa Seeds. Life 2020, 10, 49.

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