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Restart capability of resting-states of Euglena gracilis after 9 months of dormancy: preparation for autonomous space flight experiments

  • Sebastian M. Strauch (a1), Ina Becker (a1), Laura Pölloth (a1), Peter R. Richter (a1), Ferdinand W. M. Haag (a1), Jens Hauslage (a2) and Michael Lebert (a1)...

Dormant states of organisms are easier to store than the living state because they tolerate larger variations in temperature, light, storage space etc., making them attractive for laboratory culture stocks and also for experiments under special circumstances, especially space flight experiments. Like several other organisms, Euglena gracilis is capable of forming desiccation tolerant resting states in order to survive periods of unfavourable environmental conditions. In earlier experiments it was found that dormant Euglena cells must not become completely desiccated. Some residual moisture is required to ensure recovery of the resting states. To analyse the water demand in recovery of Euglena resting states, cells were transferred to a defined amount of cotton wool (0.5 g). Subsequently different volumes of medium (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 20 ml) were added in order to supply humidity; a control was set up without additional liquid. Samples were sealed in transparent 50 ml falcon tubes and stored for 9 months under three different conditions:

Constant low light conditions in a culture chamber at 20°C,

In a black box, illuminated with short light emitting diode-light pulses provided by joule thieves and

In darkness in a black box.

After 9 months, cells were transferred to fresh medium and cell number, photosynthetic efficiency and movement behavior was monitored over 3 weeks. It was found that cells recovered under all conditions except in the control, where no medium was supplied. Transcription levels of 21 genes were analysed with a Multiplex-polymerase chain reaction. One hour after rehydration five of these genes were found to be up-regulated: ubiquitin, heat shock proteins HSP70, HSP90, the calcium-sensor protein frequenin and a distinct protein kinase, which is involved in gravitaxis. The results indicate a transient general stress response of the cells.

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