This microscope image taken at 400 times magnification shows the individual cells that make up the root of an Arabidopsis thaliana plant. The cells responsible for sensing gravity (statoliths) react to changes moving inside the root.
Scientists used a high-resolution microscope to monitor up to eight plants each flight. The device was equipped with lasers and a spinning disc that scanned each root in great detail.
The images captured show the early reactions of one of the hormone auxin carriers, a protein that has a crucial role in coordinating many growth and behavioural processes in a plant’s life cycle. This hormone is very important for gravity perception and regulates the asymmetric growth between the upper and low side of the root.
The team, involving five universities across Europe, repeated the experiment during the first partial gravity international space life sciences parabolic flight campaign held in Bordeaux, France, in June 2018.