Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Did you know that BMG LABTECH microplate readers can withstand strong gravitational forces and still function normally?

Studying the physiological effects of gravity fluctuations on plants, researchers at the University of Tuebingen in Germany use BMG LABTECH’s POLARstar  microplate reader in parabolic flights and in a Hyper-g centrifuge without any adverse effects on the instrument. 

During a parabolic flight, different stages of gravitation are obtained ranging from hypergravity (about 1.8 g) to microgravity (about 10-3 g). In one flight, 31 consecutive parabolas are flown. The gravitational effects of the parabolic flight can be seen in a simulated video (http://www.novespace.fr/fr,popup,parabole.html) and in a real video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lhu198E8z2U). Normal gravity is designated as 1g, and on the accent of the parabola the gravity goes to about 1.8 g (80% higher than normal). Then on the descent when the experiments are performed, the period of microgravity lasts for about 22 seconds.

Investigating the signaling pathway from the stimulus (no gravity) to the response (e.g. activation or deactivation of the expression of certain genes), the level of two important second messengers, Ca2+ and hydrogen peroxide, were monitored. Two cell lines derived from Arabidopsis thaliana expressing either Cameleon (a calcium sensor) or HyPer (an H2O2 sensor) were used, as well as a wild type. The calcium and hydrogen peroxide measurements were performed on a fixed POLARstar OPTIMA  in kinetic mode during the whole time of the parabolic flight.

Results show that the calcium levels increased with microgravity and decreased afterwards, signifying an effect on calcium flux due to changes in gravity. Some of the results can be found online here: http://www.bmglabtech.com/customer-focus/parabolic-flights.cfm. Follow up experiments were recently performed at higher gravity levels with the robust POLARstar microplate reader. Using the Hyper-g centrifuge at ZARM (The Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity) in Bremen Germany, the entire unit was centrifuged up to 10g, further demonstrating the instrumentation robustness.
POLARstar OPTIMA outfitted for the no gravity flight