Plants and Gravity: Omics from Earth to ISS

Plant Biology

Sarah Wyatt, Ohio University

April 1, 2024 @ 12:15 pm to 01:15 pm

108 Wartik Laboratory
University Park

Preview image for Plants and Gravity: Omics from Earth to ISS

Invited and Hosted by Plant Biology Graduate Students

A plant’s ability to sense and respond to gravity is critical to its proper growth and development. As humans begin to explore extraterrestrial environments, plants will be a vital source of food and bioregenerative life support. However, plants have evolved exclusively under the 1g conditions of Earth and may not be optimally adapted for beyond-Earth cultivation. Gaining an understanding of how plants will grow under the conditions of low earth orbit (microgravity), Earth's moon (0.16g), and Mars (0.38g) is critical to the success of human space exploration. Transcriptome profiling has shown that plants grown during spaceflight exhibit altered molecular responses. However, changes in transcript levels do not necessarily correlate with changes in protein abundance. And limitations on growth space and down mass returned from the International Space Station prevent many experiments from producing enough tissue for robust proteomic analyses. Instead of directly assessing protein content, Targeted Ribosome Affinity Purification (TRAP) followed by RNAseq allows for quantification of transcripts that are actively recruited to ribosomes. These transcripts make up the translatome. The goal of the APEX-07 spaceflight experiment is to compare the transcriptome, translatome and small RNA landscape of Arabidopsis seedlings grown on the ISS to obtain a deeper understanding of spaceflight regulation.

About the Speaker:
Dr. Sarah Wyatt is currently a professor in Environmental and Plant Biology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at Ohio University. Her research program focuses on the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction during a plant’s response to altered gravity. Her research portfolio includes NASA and NSF funding for ground-based research on signaling in plants and several NASA funded experiments flown to the International Space Station funding to better understand gravitropic signaling. She and her students work predominantly on gene discovery in Arabidopsis, a genetic model for plants, using mutant analysis, genomics/transcriptomics and proteomics. Wyatt served as a program officer for the National Science Foundation for 2 years and has continued to serve on numerous grant panels for NSF, USDA and NASA. She teaches scientific writing to graduate and upper-level undergraduate students and introductory biology to freshmen and sophomores. Wyatt is passionate about outreach, inclusion and student success; works extensively with undergraduates and high school students in her research laboratory; and is active in outreach to the K-12 community, especially as it related to inclusion of women in science. She developed and hosted the university-wide Science Café, a biweekly discussion of research led by STEM faculty across campus, for 10 years and is active in other university service and STEM outreach to the community, including leading Tech Savvy, a one-day, hands-on STEM workshop for middle school girls, the presenting at annual Women in Science Day events and giving numerous talk each year about to classes and local, regional and national/international groups on her work.


Robert Witkowski