Can Flora Grow In Zero Gravity?
Last Updated on July 12, 2021 by Ephraim Iyodo
Of course, although with some complexity to it, flora simply means plants, flowers and relatively fungus growing at a specific time or era.
Plants are very adaptive to many conditions as they need to be as they are not mobile.
That been said, plants can adapt even in zero gravity, when we say zero gravity it is outer space right.
In zero gravity, plant life finds its way of growing even in the absence of gravity, plants use other environmental factors, such as light, to guide and direct their growth.
A source of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) above the plants produces a spectrum of light suitable for plant growth.
Will Plants Grow Normally
When we talk of flora on Earth, we know their root systems work with gravity through the statocytes, removing gravity is a whole other thing.
The root will grow without any direction because the perception of gravity in the statocytes involves grains of starch falling due to gravity itself, triggering hormonal reactions that promote differential growth and cause the root to grow down.
Without gravity, they would stay at about the same depth and they may not iinitially germinate.
A NASA astronaut reported that this is easy enough to fix by simply ripping the ends out of the soil and pulling them to the surface when they first germinate.
From then on, the plant can orient itself to the light and will continue to grow. The roots are not affected as much because they are just growing away from the seed and avoiding the light (surface), so they develop relatively normally.
After that, growth is mostly normal. The resulting plants may look a little unusual because they don’t have the usual gravity-driven droop, so they will be more upright and may look much like this:
Roots obviously do not need gravity to guide their directional tilt They would grow away from the light source regardless of gravitational forces.
However, waving is much different in space, and ISS roots are bent and twisted in a more subtle way in their growth environment than on Earth.
Although plants on Earth use gravity to determine the direction of growth, “it is clear that gravity is neither necessary for root orientation nor the only factor influencing the nature of root growth.”
“It seems it will require other environmental features for the root to grow away from the seed, which increases its chances of finding enough water and nutrients to survive.”
Experiments on the ISS showed that young spruce seedlings do grow in microgravity, but they look different.
The seedlings grow faster and the needles are not pointing downward as much. DNA analysis has shown that some plant genes are more active in space, but we have yet to figure out the long-term effects on large plants.
Are Plants Taller In Space Than Earth
The tallest trees on Earth are giant redwood trees about 300-400 feet tall. Gravity is the main reason why these trees are not taller than that.
For a tree to reach this enormous height, it must be strong. The height of the trees is also limited because the trees have to draw water from the ground to their leaves.
As water is pulled upward through the plant, at some point the water column becomes so long that it breaks under gravity.
Such a problem does not exist in space. Without gravity, plants growing on a space station grow long and thin, and they don’t need to create a lot of supporting tissues. Plants can scoop up water more easily because there is no gravity pulling them toward a body of water, and they increase in size without weighing anything down.
In theory, a tree can become very tall in space, but there are still practical limitations. The tree must fit on a space station, so it is unlikely that humans will ever grow giant sequoias in space.