Animal Development In Microgravity

Eberhard Horn'

University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany

Life on Earth has developed under a constant gravitational field. It is therefore reasonable to assume that living organisms incorporate the ever-present gravitational signal in some or even all mechanisms of their development. Microgravity provides a research environment allowing to identify those developmental processes for which the underlying mechanisms depend, at least in part, on the gravitational signals for their initiation or successful completion. This chapter reviews both pioneer and recent results from space experiments on developmental processes and their behavioral consequences in insects, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. A number of these experiments were performed under the responsibility of the author1. Also, development cannot be discussed :=.„

without remarks on aging. Finally, this chapter concludes with perspectives of necessary research strategies in the area of developmental animal biology for the future.

Figure 5-01. The house cricket (Acheta domesticus) has club-shaped gravity sensitive structures on appendages, called cerci, at the end of its body. Space studies have investigated the development and regeneration of these gravity sensors in microgravity and their consequences on the animal's posture during passive body tilt after return to Earth.

' The German Space Agency (DLR) supports studies from the author since 1989.

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