A ground-based comparison of nutrient delivery technologies originally developed for growing plants in the spaceflight environment

Horttechnology. Jan-Mar 2000;10(1):179-85.


A ground-based comparison of plant nutrient delivery systems that have been developed for microgravity application was conducted for dwarf wheat (Triticum aestivum L. 'Yecora Rojo') and rapid-cycling brassica (Brassica rapa L. CrGC#1-33) plants. These experiments offer insight into nutrient and oxygen delivery concerns for greenhouse crop production systems. The experiments were completed over a 12-day period to simulate a typical space shuttle-based spaceflight experiment. The plant materials, grown either using the porous-tube nutrient delivery system, the phenolic foam support system, or a solidified agar nutrient medium, were compared by plant-growth analysis, root zone morphological measurements, elemental composition analysis, and alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme activity assay. The results of these analyses indicate that the porous tube plant nutrient delivery and the phenolic foam systems maintain plant growth at a higher level than the solidified agar gel medium system. Root zone oxygenation problems associated with the agar system were manifested through biochemical and morphological responses. The porous tube nutrient delivery system outperformed the other two systems on the basis of plant growth analysis parameters and physiological indicators of root zone aeration. This information is applicable to the current crop production techniques used in greenhouse-controlled environments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agar
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Brassica / enzymology
  • Brassica / growth & development*
  • Brassica / metabolism
  • Culture Media
  • Environment, Controlled*
  • Fertilizers
  • Hydroponics / methods*
  • Minerals / pharmacokinetics*
  • Phenols
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / enzymology
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plant Shoots / enzymology
  • Plant Shoots / growth & development
  • Plant Shoots / metabolism
  • Triticum / enzymology
  • Triticum / growth & development*
  • Triticum / metabolism


  • Culture Media
  • Fertilizers
  • Minerals
  • Phenols
  • Plant Proteins
  • Agar
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase