JAXA Seeds in Space I

Let's Cultivate Spaceflight Asagao, Miyako-gusa Seeds and Identify the Mutants!

The mutation effects of the spaceflight on the plant seeds could be scientifically identified just by student's cultivation and comparing their phenotypes, such as colors, figures and etc., in the second generation.

Application Period:

Thanks to the many applicants. The spring 2011 application period has ended.

Program Outline:

Three groups of Asagao or Miyako-gusa seeds were prepared, firstly which consists of the seeds preserved in Kibo module of the ISS for nearly nine months on 2008, secondary seeds group exposed to the appropriate heavy-ion beams with Radiation Accelerator in RIKEN for positive control, and the third seeds group stayed on the ground, as negative control. The appearance of the mutant variants can be scientifically clarified just by the students who would participate cultivating with an ordinary observation procedure from 2011 spring to the autumn of 2011 through 2 time cultivations.

Participating Process:

Qualification requirements are that the applicant should be a teacher of the school (or educator equivalent) who can oversee and instruct students from Spring 2011 till Autumn 2011. For the growing of morning glory, applicable schools are kindergartens, elementary, junior and high school. Growing of Miyako-gusa is open to elementary schools fourth grade or higher, and junior high schools and high schools.

Science/Education Experiments on the ISS:

JAXA has started to offer wide opportunities to participate in educational ISS experiments based on the real Science. Even though students could play a leading part in conducting educational experiments, the scientific value and meaning of the experiments remains significant. In the first set of JAXA Seeds in Space experiments, the mutation effects of spaceflight on plant seeds aboard the ISS is explored.

Effects of Space Radiation on Plant Seeds and Identification of Their Mutants:

Plants featured with diploid and self-pollination such as Asagao (Japanese morning glory) and Miyako-gusa (Japanese bird's foot trefoil) must be suitable species to identify the mutants from their phenotypes on the M2 generation. Because it is well known in the Plant Breeding Discipline that mutation with radiation should be recessive with almost no exceptions. So you can not specify the mutants judging from their phenotypes on the M1 generation. Two-time growths of such plants would pave the way for school students to find genetic variants by just observations, as well as to further exploration of the Law of Dominant Inheritance.

Figure 1.

How to obtain a recessive homozygote (M2 with a white flower). M; some specific gene with wild type m: some specific gene with mutation


Some Japanese scientists, playing an active role on the front lines of the disciplines including plant breeding, radiation breeding, mutations of Asagao, or Miyako-gusa, as well as the root nodule bacteria and the symbiosis with them, would give the impetus to create teaching materials, reply to questions, and handle student data.


ISS Education Secretariat
Space Education Center, JAXA
Tel: +81-50-3362-6377
Fax: +81-42-759-8612
E-mail: ssep@edu.jaxa.jp