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University of Florida plant molecular biologists Robert Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul lead a team focused on growing plants in space environments. Join them as they study plants currently on the International Space Station.

Environmental changes almost always lead to changes in gene regulation. Our lab genetically engineers Arabidopsis thaliana plants to display their adaptation response to a specific kind of stress. We send these plants aboard the International Space Station to learn how biology reacts in microgravity. Our goal is to use this technology to identify the effects of space flight on plant biology. Astronauts aboard the Space Station take both macroscopic and microscope images of the plants as they grow, while the lab members on Earth monitor the experiments. At the end of the flight, the plants are fixed in a solution that preserves their on-orbit metabolic state. After the plants return to Earth, we perform genetic expression testing and other standard techniques to determine how the plants responded to their time in space.

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