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3 US researchers to study cotton in space station
01
May '18
3 US researchers to study cotton in space station
A project by a Clemson University scientist to explore the cotton genome and how it reacts in microgravity and normal gravity and another by a University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison botanist to study cotton seedlings grown on the International Space Station (ISS) are among three winners of a cotton sustainability research challenge in the United States.

The competition was organized by US non-profit Centre for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and sponsored by retail giant Target Corporation.

Twenty-five million metric tonnes of cotton are grown around the world each year and each kilogram requires thousands of litres of water to produce. CASIS designed the competition to address this environmental impact.

Fibred used in denim come from water-guzzling cotton plants and plant scientists are on the hunt for ways to make cotton more sustainable. UW-Madison botanist Simon Gilroy will study cotton seedlings grown on the ISS to better understand the crop’s growth back on earth, according to a university release.

“The goal is to understand root system growth to help understand how to generate cotton with roots that grow deep to scavenge water more efficiently and also sequester more carbon in the soil,” said Gilroy.

Gilroy’s team will study a cotton variety that, on Earth at least, resists stresses like drought better than most cotton. Researchers believe this drought resistance stems from roots that are better able to explore the soil for water and nutrients.

Since root growth is affected by gravity, Gilroy’s experiment will ask how the absence of gravity affects the cotton plant’s growth, stress response and root behaviour. That information may help researchers understand how to develop cotton plants that use water more efficiently.

Clemson scientist Christopher Saski’s project proposes to examine gene expression, DNA methylation patterns and genome sequences of embryogenic callus material that respond differently to regeneration in tissue culture during the process of regeneration under micro- and normal gravity environments.

This innovative approach could have the potential to unlock the phenomenon of genetic recalcitrance (resistance) to regeneration, advancing fundamental biological knowledge and can have translational impacts to other plant species that are critical to global agricultural sustainability, the university said in a release.

The third winner is Marshall Moutenot of Upstream Tech in Alameda, California.

Launches are tentatively scheduled for early 2019. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


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