Support Provided ByLearn More

Plant Sex is Slower in Space

ByAllison EckNOVA NextNOVA Next

Perrin Ireland, writing for Visual Science:

A new study on plant reproduction finds that developing cells are very affected by altered states of gravity—a finding that has implications for our hopes for a future human society in space.


What they found is that plants in microgravity grew smaller pollen tubes: their diameters were 8 percent smaller than those grown at Earth gravity. At five times Earth’s gravity, the tubes were 8 percent wider, and at 20 times Earth’s gravity, they were 38 percent wider.

This is because the assembly of cell walls was disrupted in microgravity, leading to a reduced growth rate. As a result, the germination rates were much lower in the lesser-gravity states, the researchers reported in PLoS ONE .

Plants aren’t alone, either. Brian Switek says scientists are pondering how dinosaurs had sex , in part because of the massive weight some species had to bear.