Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings grown in microgravity developed a peg on each side of the transition zone between hypocotyl and root, whereas seedlings grown in a horizontal position on the ground developed a peg on the concave side of the gravitropically bending transition zone. The morphological features of the space-grown seedlings were similar to those of seedlings grown in a vertical position on the ground with their radicles pointing down: both became two-pegged seedlings. Morphogenesis of cucumber seedlings is thus inhibited by gravity. Analysis by in-situ hybridization of an auxin-inducible gene, CS-IAA1, showed that its mRNA accumulated to a much greater extent on the lower side of the transition zone in the horizontally placed seedlings on the ground just prior to and during the initiation period of peg formation. On the other hand, when seedlings were grown in microgravity or in a vertical position on the ground, accumulation of CS-IAA1 mRNA occurred all around the transition zone. Accumulation of CS-IAA1 mRNA in horizontally grown seedlings appreciably decreased on the upper side of the transition zone and increased on the lower side upon gravistimulation, compared with the two-pegged seedlings. Application of IAA to seedlings in a horizontal position caused the development of a peg on each side of the transition zone, or a collar-like protuberance, depending on the concentration used. These results suggest that upon gravistimulation the auxin concentration on the upper side of the horizontally placed transition zone is reduced to a level below the threshold value necessary for peg formation. Space-grown seedlings of cucumber might develop two pegs symmetrically because the auxin level in the entire transition zone is maintained above the threshold. This spaceflight experiment verified for the first time that auxin does not redistribute in microgravity.
- Cucumis (gravimorphogenesis)
- Peg formation