Research Interests

Europa: Arabidopsis Research

Research Summary: NASA- Low Pressure Environments

Dissertation Title: "Effect of Hypobaria on Genetic Expression of Ethylene, Gas Exchange, and Crop Productivity"

The development of an Advanced Life Support (ALS) System will incorporate air and water revitalization and food production as roles for a plant growth system. Ethylene accumulation to levels detrimental to plant growth is problematic for space shuttles, the international space station, and potentially in Lunar/Martian plant growth facilities. Low pressure (hypobaria) reduces ethylene production.

The proposed research objectives are:
1) to characterize plant gas exchange and growth under low pressure which applies to an ALS System
2) to use molecular biology in Arabidopsis thaliana to determine how ethylene biosynthetic enzymes are affected genetically under hypobaria.

Long-term goals involve the application of this research to NASA baseline crops (i.e. lettuce, wheat) to improve the NASA ALS System. Novel research of this nature calls for an interdisciplinary collaboration comprised of experts in the areas of plant physiology, molecular biology, and agricultural engineering. A six-chambered low pressure plant growth (LPPG) system already in place at Texas A&M University (TAMU) will be central to plant gas exchange measurements in long-term experiments.


Why Use Low Pressure?

Why Use Arabidopsis thaliana?

Why Examine Ethylene Biosynthesis?

Research Facilities

TAMU 3rd Generation Low Pressure Plant Growth Facility


Plant Hormone Research Laboratory

Arabidopsis thaliana

Mycorrhizal Fungi/ Nursery Crop Physiology Laboratory

Gigaspora margarita

Related Research Facilities

Rob Ferl's Laboratory,University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, University of Guelph, Canada

Kennedy Space Center, FL

Academic Awards

Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences Graduate Assistantship, 9/2002-8/2003
NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program Fellowship, funded by NASA OBPR, 8/2003-8/2004

Graduate Committee Members

Dr. Frederick Davies; Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)
Dr. Scott Finalyson; Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)
Dr. Michael Grusak; USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)
Dr. Ronald Lacey; Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)
Dr. Raymond Wheeler; NASA Biological Sciences,(Kennedy Space Center, FL)

Texas A&M University, Department of Horticultural Sciences, HFSB 413
College Station, Texas 77843-2133
Lab: (979)845-5046 Fax:(979)845-0627

Last Updated: June 29, 2003

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