NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-II B2.01-8971
PHASE-I CONTRACT NUMBER: NNK04OA13C
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Understanding and Utilizing Gravitational Effects on Plants and Animals
PROPOSAL TITLE:Aseptic Plant Culture System (APCS)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Orbital Technologies Corporation
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison ,WI 53717 - 1961
(608) 827 - 5000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert C Morrow
morrowr@orbitec.com
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison ,WI  53717 -1961
(608) 827 - 5000
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
Aseptic plant culture plays a significant role in biotechnology and plant physiology research, and in vegetative propagation of many plant species. The development of an Aseptic Plant Culture System would provide a mechanism for experimentation as well as for transporting and storing vegetatively propagated plant material in space. Most culture systems are passive, with no environmental monitoring or control. This project proposes to develop an environmental control and monitoring system for sterile culture that can accommodate, without modification, a variety of standard culture vessels. The system would consist of a modular base unit into which culture vessels can be plugged as desired. Multiple vessel sizes and shapes could be accommodated with a generic connector system. Environmental parameters controlled and monitored would include light level and spectral quality, photoperiod, air and media temperature, humidity, and atmospheric composition. Using innovative, high precision miniature environmental control components allows each vessel to maintain independent control setpoints if desired. Subsystem modularity means the system can be reconfigured for use in specific carriers or to meet an investigator's specific need. Particular challenges include development of a miniaturized humidity control system, precise control of the gaseous environment in small volumes, and maintaining sterility for extended periods.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
The APCS can accommodate experiments requiring sterile plant culture in reduced gravity. It would be well suited for physiology and biotechnology experiments using Arabidopsis explants or seedlings and could be used to maintain propagules in a well defined environment as a source of transplants for on-going experiments. APCS could also support experiments with fungi, ferns, mosses and even bacteria. The APCS could be flown as an insert in existing payloads including incubators, plant growth units or animal habitats. Components of the APCS could be part of the plant propagation system used to maintain stock plants for bioregenerative life support systems.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
An APCS would provide a tool for research on optimizing the tissue culture environment, provide the ability to conduct a range of experiments at the culture vessel level, and support the ability to manipulate the culture environment to increase quantity and quality of plant materials grown from vegetatively propagated stock. These capabilities would be of use in university and college laboratories, and in commercial agricultural operations developing genetically modified plants or vegetatively propagating plants (e.g., orchids, seed potatoes). Another potential use would be in pre-college and college level science classes and in advanced biology outreach programs.


Form Printed on 07-28-04 12:14