The UL Lafayette biology professor's Biotube-Micro research project splashed down off the coast of
The experiment explores ways plants sense and react to gravity. It will be flown to
Hasenstein will return to the University with the experiment on Tuesday, or Wednesday. He estimates at least six to eight months of research will follow.
Hasenstein and graduate students will examine how directional forces affected plant growth in a nearly weightless environment. The objective is to learn more about how and why plants grow up, while their roots grow down.
There are several theories. One centers on tiny starch grains, called amyloplasts, inside plants. Amyloplasts gradually settle in the direction of gravity, and are thought to provide growth cues. Hasenstein hopes to confirm the theory.
The experiment attempted to displace the starch grains in Brassica rapa plants; the turnip is a subspecies. The plants were encased in a semi-autonomous device and exposed to powerful magnetic fields, which repel the amyloplasts.
The conditions produce the same effect as when the particles are influenced by gravity. None of the other components of the plant are displaced, as would be the case with exposure to gravity.
TNS 30TagarumaMar-140520-4740646 30TagarumaMar
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