The University of Florida and Plants: To Infinity and Beyond

The UF Space Plants Logo

In preparation for the future on Earth and in space travel, researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (UF/IFAS) will launch seeds into space today, February 17, 2017.

The purpose of this experiment will be to find out how gene expression can help plants adapt themselves to new environments. It is also the first experiment on the epigenetics of plants, or how the environment in space modifies the plants’ DNA. This information will help researchers further understand how plants actually grow while the environment changes on Earth.

Seeds of the Arabidopsis (a plant in the mustard family) will be sent to the International Space Station where astronauts will plant them in a growth hardware machine. Their growth progress will then be tracked with photos for 11 days, then the plants will be sent back to the UF Space Plants Lab to be studied. The reactions that the plants experience to their time in space will show researchers how they can expect them to grow on the Earth as carbon dioxide and pollutant levels increase.

You can follow the journey of the space plants on their official Twitter account or read more about it here.

The PLANTZ team can wait to see how this experiment goes, especially since UF is our President Steve Stanford’s alma mater! Go green! Go Gators!