The Effects of Hypergravity and Radiation Exposure on Plants – Preliminary Results

Marlise A. dos Santos, Débora Marchesan Cunha, Cintia A Ribeiro, Felipe C Escobal, Ana Maria Marques, Nicollas G. Cavedini, Phillipe A Souvestre, Thais Russomano

Research output: Contribution to conference typesAbstractpeer-review


Introduction: Plant germination and growth are influenced by innumerous
environmental factors, such as the level of gravity and type of radiation. Several plants
have nutritive and medicinal value, making the importance of their cultivation and
consumption during space missions unquestionable. Studies demonstrate that
simulated hypergravity, through centrifuge exposure, increases seed germination,
accelerates plant growth and modifies the metabolites produced by some plants. The
radiation of space, either in Low Earth Orbit or deep space, could also positively impact
on plant growth and metabolite production. The aim of this research was to evaluate
the effect of Cobalt 60 radiation (ionizing radiation) alone or in combination with
simulated hypergravity on arugula.
Methods: Twenty-four different protocols were used to evaluate the effect of Cobalt 60
(ionizing radiation, ranging from 3Gy to 40Gy) alone or combined with simulated
hypergravity (+7G) on arugula. Plant growth was analyzed after 25 days (D-25) and 45
days (D-45) of cultivation, and also compared to a control group (1G, no radiation).
Results: Of the twenty-four protocols evaluated on D-25, 2 died, while 15 of the
experimental group (6 radiation only and 9 radiation and hyperG exposure) presented
better results than the control. Considering D-45, 4 died, while 16 (9 radiation only and
7 radiation and hyperG exposure) presented greater growth than the control. The
greatest response in plant growth was observed with the highest level of radiation
exposure (40Gy) combined with simulated hypergravity.
Discussion: Faster germination and increased growth of arugula seeds has been
demonstrated when subjected to intermittent exposure to +7Gz. UV-C radiation (nonionizing
radiation) has also been shown to increase arugula production of antioxidant
and polyphenol compounds. In this experiment, increased plant development at an early
stage of growth (D-25) was seen in plants from the control group in only 7 protocols in
comparison to the experimental group. This number reduced to four at D-45, suggesting
that the growth of arugula can be affected by its maturation. This might indicate the
need to wait for the adult stage of the arugula before evaluating the secondary
compounds and gene profile for a better understanding of the effect of ionizing
radiation either alone or combination with hypergravity exposure, which can impact on
its nutritional and medicinal potential in the space environment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2019
EventAerospace Medical Association Annual Scientific Meeting 2019 - Rio All-Suites Hotel And Casino, Las Vegas, United States
Duration: 5 May 20199 May 2019


ConferenceAerospace Medical Association Annual Scientific Meeting 2019
Abbreviated titleAsMA 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLas Vegas


  • hypergravity
  • Radiation
  • plant germination


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