Status Report

MinION Sequencing Platform Effectively Detects Transcriptional Activity of Plant Microbes

By SpaceRef Editor
July 1, 2021
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Healthy plants are vital for successful, long-duration missions in space, as they provide the crew with life support, food production, and psychological benefits. Identifying changes in microorganisms that associate with plant tissues plays a critical role in optimizing plant health and production in space. A new method of detecting transcription activity of plant microbes using the Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencing platform was recently tested by NASA Space Biology Post-doctoral Fellow Dr. Natasha Haveman of the University of Florida. 

Using a key salad crop grown under ISS-like conditions, microbial transcripts enriched from host-microbe total RNA were sequenced. Results show that this enrichment approach was highly reproducible and could be an effective approach for the on-site detection of microbial transcriptional activity. 

Findings from this study demonstrate the feasibility of using metatranscriptomics of enriched microbial RNA as a potential method for on-site monitoring of the transcriptional activity of crop microbiomes. Microbes play a critical role in plant growth and development. Monitoring the plant-microbe activity in space will help facilitate and maintain plant health for on-orbit space food production.  

Evaluating the lettuce metatranscriptome with MinION sequencing for future spaceflight food production applications, NPJ Microgravity

SpaceRef staff editor.