Sex in space is not such a good idea!
Changes in gravity affect the reproductive process in plants, University of Montreal researchers have found and that is why sex in space is not such a good idea. Gravity modulates traffic on the intracellular "highways" that ensure the growth and functionality of the male reproductive organ in plants, the pollen tube, they said.
"Just like during human reproduction, the sperm cells in plants are delivered to the egg by a cylindrical tool. Unlike the delivery tool in animals, the device used during plant sex consists of a single cell, and only two sperm cells are discharged during each delivery event," explained Professor Anja Geitmann of the university's Department of biology.
"Our findings offer new insight into how life evolved on Earth and are significant with regards to human health, as a traffic jam on these highways that also exist in human cells can cause cancer and illnesses such as Alzheimer's," she said.
The interior of animal and plant cells is like a city, with factories—called organelles—dedicated to manufacturing, energy production and waste processing. A network of intracellular "highways" enables the communication between these factories and the delivery of cargo between them and between the inside of the cell and its external environment. Plant cells have a particularly busy highway system.
"Researchers already knew that humans, animals and plants have evolved in response to Earth's gravity, and that they are able to sense it," Geitmann explained.
"What we are still discovering is how the processes occurring within the cells of the human and plant bodies are affected by the more intense gravity, or hypergravity, that would be found on a large planet, or the microgravity that resembles the conditions on a space craft. Intracellular transport processes are particularly sensitive to disturbance, with dramatic consequences for cell functioning. How these processes are affected by a change in gravity is poorly understood," she noted.
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