The chromosomes contain the genome for all plants and animals. Only 5% or so of the entire genome is known because all research has been based on a gravity driven environment. On orbit the situation changes.
On orbit studies with mature plants and bacteria have demonstrated gene expression well beyond the controls on Earth. Gene expression on orbit occurs at a much higher rate in simple plants (such as bacteria and yeast) and all other plants. That knowledge can be an important tool in saving the agricultural production of the planet. It took thousands of years to produce the agriculture we have today but the human population explosion will force the people to understand that we need an acceleration of developing new crops to feed the Earth.
The current system of genetic selection for plants and animals is a very slow and laborious task and has little effect on short-term effects of any merit. An explosion of new varieties of both plants and animals can occur using the "forcing" of undifferentiated plant and animal tissues into an acceleration of evolution on orbit that will change the entire system.
Plant and animal physiology follow the same "Metabolic Pathways' and we can expect the same diversity in gene expression in animals that would include the one celled organisms through the higher order animals. Studies have been conducted but not yet analyzed will demonstrate gene expression on orbit of undifferentiated cells.
Both the plant and animal undifferentiated cells will demonstrate gene expression way beyond normal expectation. This understanding can lead to a new science "The acceleration of evolution on orbit".
- The outcome can be remarkable since using the on orbit experience can lead to the production of an unlimited number of varieties of each Species on Earth by expanding the gene expression to provide varieties of each Species that are capable of filling a specific need.
- New varieties can be developed on obit using this technology and returned to Earth for the process of determining if the desirable characteristics have been expressed. In plants the undifferentiated parenchyma from the new specimen plant can then be sent back into orbit to produce billions of the same cells. Upon return to Earth each cell can be plated to produce another whole plant from the specimen plant. Whole orchards of the new specimen plant can be produced in much shorter time-frames than using the current methods.
- Markets will include, but not be limited to new fruit crops that have economic promise. The horticultural industry has a lust for development of new varieties of each species and expanding the range of the plants. The horticultural industry would be highly pleased with the new technology.
- Protection of endangered species by production of the endangered species en-masse or developing varieties of that species that may be capable of habitat adjustment is also a goal but must be a matter of discussion. Both plant and animal species are on the brink of extinction and there may be a way of forcing genes into producing plants and animals to the related stress factors.
- Plant and animal varieties that are produced from this on-orbit process will be from the basic stock (not genetically modified) and will not be subject to the regulatory restrictions placed on such new varieties as a opposed to GMO products which are severely regulated in the US and restricted in foreign countries. Our foreign exports of GMO crops has affected the US agricultural exports to a great degree.
- The acceleration of new animal varieties would be welcome because of the time for development of specimen live stock and gene expression can develop many new varieties better suited for environmental conditions. Better production of animal products and by-products can be achieved in a much shorter time-frame and conducted in a more structured fashion.
The ONLY place this technology can be conducted is on orbit. Every economically important plant and animal can be improved upon and a “up-down” launch and recovery system would be required. The ISS is the only available laboratory capable of developing such a system before being put into privately owned space stations.
The ISS is the key to improving agriculture on Earth and a stepping stone to the Universe.
By John Wayne Kennedy