KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), December 12, 2023 – Cotton is one of the world’s most vital agricultural commodities, used in products from clothes to coffee filters. It’s also a resource-draining plant that farmers struggle to grow sustainably. The search for genetic clues that could produce resilient cotton plants that use resources more efficiently yielded new results when a research team utilized the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory to study cotton’s response to microgravity and stress.
The latest issue of Upward, official magazine of the ISS National Lab, explores an investigation by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) that compared how ordinary cotton and cotton genetically modified to withstand drought grew in space. Plants typically struggle to thrive in harsh space environments. To the team’s surprise, the test cotton, especially the genetically modified variety, grew better in space than on Earth. Determining exactly why cotton seems to thrive in space is a mystery that UW researchers are investigating.
Decoding these findings could lead to the production of more resilient crops that withstand stressful conditions on Earth and during long-term space missions.
Upward is dedicated to communicating the results of space station experiments that demonstrate the value of space-based research and technology development. Read the article “Cultivating the Cosmos: Decoding Crop Resilience Through Space-Grown Cotton” to discover how scientists leveraged microgravity to pinpoint new genetic avenues that may unlock future sustainable, resilient crops.
The full Upward Volume 6, Issue 3 and previous issues are now available for download.
Download the high-resolution image for this release: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough
About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space™ (CASIS™) manages the ISS National Laboratory®, under Cooperative Agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit www.ISSNationalLab.org.