BIM-3 houses two biological plant experiments, GRAMAT and SPARC. The experiments uses a small common weed Arabidopsis thaliana (English: Tale cress, Swedish: Backtrav). PI of the experiments is Pr.Dr. Klaus Palme et al. FRIAS, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. SPARC was initially introduced by Pr.Dr. G Scherer of Uni Hannover
In BIM-3, the mechanisms of root growth of plants are studied without the presence of gravity. On ground, roots grow downwards, but what happens when there is no “up” or “down”? Microgravity flights with plants has been performed many times, and in this particular mission GRAMAT is an experiment to carry out “Isolation of mRNA to identify gravity related gene expression”, and SPARC topic is “A Specialized Phospholipase A, and Relocalization in auxintransporting cells in microgravity”
The experiment module contains a temperature-controlled experiment platform with 36 cultivation cells with agar beds and seeds, 18 for GRAMAT and 18 for SPARC. In addition, 12 reference cells on ground complement the experiment. Four different configurations constitute each of the two experiments: microgravity, Zero-time reference, 1g reference and ground reference. Each configuration of samples is chemically fixed at a pre-defined time, representing the current state of the plants. By comparing the four configurations, conclusions can be derived.
The preparation of the experiment cells with the plants is an extensive procedure which starts several days in advance, as the plants needs to be cultivated 5 days before ready for experiment execution. The cultivation cycle also includes the implementation of a day/night regime that must be kept throughout the experiment preparation and execution.
BIM-3 teams at the campaign:
Uni Freiburg: Pr K Palme, Dr. Franck Ditengou, Dr. Hui Wang, Hanna Lasok
ESA-Estec: René Demets, Antonio Verga
RUAG: Paolo Dainesi, Rafael Pennese, Gilles Nicola, Sebastien Cassagne
SSC: Alf Vaernéus, Jianning Li, Kenneth Henriksson