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April 4 2013
A new study on plant reproduction finds that developing cells are very affected by altered states of gravity—a finding that has implications for our hopes for a future human society in space.
In order for plants to have sex, a pollen grain first lands on a stigma (the female part of a flowering plant.) Following a chemical come-hither signal from the stigma, the pollen grain grows a pollen tube, a tunnel for sperm cells to travel down to reach the egg for fertilization. Pollen tubes are the fastest growing cells in the plant kingdom. The pollen tube was used as a model system for a recent study on the effects of altered gravity on plant reproduction because a response in the pollen tube takes a matter of mere seconds.
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