to Stimulate Competitive Research
Life, as we know it, originated within the constant gravity environment of Earth. Therefore, gravity has played a continuing, uniform role in the evolution of molecular mechanisms which guide cellular development. This role has largely been ignored by cellular and developmental biology research, due partly to the constant nature of the parameter and partly to the difficulty in varying the amount of gravity perceived by an organism in a reproducible manner. There is evidence from both animal and plant systems that microgravity can impact biological processes both at a cellular level and on an organismal level. It is imperative, therefore, to understand the effects which gravity may play in the mechanisms of cell biology
As a step towards meeting this experimental imperative, Kansas State University and Emporia State University have collaborated to establish three focus groups, which performed ground-based experiments to examine the effects of gravity and the lack thereof on critical cell biology areas. The focus groups and their objectives are:
PLANT CELLULAR BIOLOGY- to understand the effects of gravity on plant cell development, and on the mechanisms by which plants mound defensive responses against pathogens.
IMMUNOLOGY- to understand how gravity influences the immune system, examining the interaction between cells and extracellular matrix molecules.
CELLULAR DEVELOPMENT- to understand the effects of gravity in regulating embryogenic events, examining bone and cardiac muscle model systems.
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