Growth and development of etiolated pea (Pisum sativum L. cv. Alaska) and maize (Zea mays L. cv. Golden Cross Bantam) seedlings grown under simulated microgravity conditions were intensively studied using a 3-dimensional clinostat as a simulator of weightlessness. Epicotyls of etiolated pea seedlings grown on the clinostat were the most oriented toward the direction far from cotyledons. Mesocotyls of etiolated maize seedlings grew at random and coleoptiles curved slightly during clinostat rotation. Clinostat rotation promoted the emergence of the 3rd internodes in etiolated pea seedlings, while it significantly inhibited the growth of the 1st internodes. In maize seedlings, the growth of coleoptiles was little affected by clinostat rotation, but that of mesocotyls was suppressed, and therefore, the emergence of the leaf out of coleoptile was promoted. Clinostat rotation reduced the osmotic concentration in the 1st internodes of pea seedlings, although it has little effect on the 2nd and the 3rd internodes. Clinostat rotation also reduced the osmotic concentrations in both coleoptiles and mesocotyls of maize seedlings. Cell-wall extensibilities of the 1st and the 3rd internodes of pea seedlings grown on the clinostat were significantly lower and higher as compared with those on 1 g conditions, respectively. Cell-wall extensibility of mesocotyls in seedlings grown on the clinostat also decreased. Changes in cell wall properties seem to be well correlated to the growth of each organ in pea and maize seedlings. These results suggest that the growth and development of plants is controlled under gravity on earth, and that the growth responses of higher plants to microgravity conditions are regulated by both cell-wall mechanical properties and osmotic properties of stem cells.
c 2001 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.