Professor, Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences/Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, 200032, China
Prof. Zheng lead a team focused on growing plants in space environments. Her lab sent plants, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, rice, Chinese cabbage and tobacco culture cells, into space aboard Chinese spacecraft ShenZhou-4/8, Chinese spacelab TongGong-2 and recoverable satellite Shijian-8/10 to learn how microgravity affects plant growth and development and to identify the potential important proteins and genes involved in microgravity response in plants. Automatic, preprogrammed photographic equipments were used to record images of plant growth and gene expression in space and on ground. At the end of the flight, the plants are fixed in a solution that preserves their on-orbit metabolic state. After the plants return to Earth, the lab membrane was carried out whole-genome microarray and proteomic analysis. These experiments found that microgravity in space significantly affected expression of Flowering Locus T (FT) and delayed growth, extended life span of the plants in space, suggesting a new molecular plasticity in plant to adaptation to microgravity.