Feature Story

‘Rooting for Answers’

March 23, 2018 – by Ohio Wesleyan University

NASA Shares Video of Professor Chris Wolverton’s Plant Research

Ohio Wesleyan professor Chris Wolverton presents an overview of his NASA-funded research now being conducted on the International Space Station. (Video courtesy of NASA)

Chris Wolverton, Ph.D.

“Think about the fact that the shape of every plant you’ve ever seen is the result of gravity-sensing,” Ohio Wesleyan University professor Chris Wolverton, Ph.D., says in a new NASA video.

Knowing that, Wolverton wants to know, “What is the least amount of gravity that a plant can detect?” – and astronauts on the International Space Station are helping him to find out. Currently they are adding fractional gravity to plants supplied by Wolverton and his OWU research laboratory and then “ask(ing) the plant, ‘How about that? Can you feel that much?’ ”

The results of Wolverton’s NASA-funded research will help farmers to determine optimal growth conditions for crops with, he notes, “lots of potential applications both off the Earth and on the Earth.”

At the conclusion of the space station study, the plants will be returned to Wolverton and collaborators for additional research.

Read the article, “Rooting for Answers: Simulating G-Force to Test Plant Gravity Perception in Mustard Seedlings” for more information. Learn more about Wolverton and Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Botany and Microbiology.