The COSPAR Scientific Assembly just finished in Moscow gathered over 2000 researchers from around the globe. Olga Kozlova, a researcher from the Extreme Environments and Adaptations Lab (Extreme Biology), KFU Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology, presented a report at one of 50 COSPAR sections.
The COSPAR Organizing Committee was so interested in Olga's master's thesis focused on whole genome analysis of fish gene expression that covered the costs of her trip to the event.
- I was very nervous delivering a report at COSPAR section of Genetic, Epigenetic and Metabolic Changes in Spaceflight and Simulated Spaceflight Environment. I think the fact that the new data I received about the space effect on fish may be applied to humans caused the interest to my work.
Our research is based upon the results of Russian-Japan experiment AquaticHabitat (AQH). Since 2012 International Space Station crew was observing medaka specially raised in Kibo Japanese module of JAXA AquaticHabitat (AQH).
Aquatic Habitat (AQH) is a unique investigation designed to study small fresh water fish including the medaka and zebrafish. This facility consists of two 15х7х7 cm aquariums (700 litres each) with a closed loop water circulation system, automatic feeding system, day/night light cycle, and cameras. This microgravity investigation allows researchers to study changes to bones, the loss of muscle mass, the effects of radiation and the biological development of living organisms.
As Olga said, Aquatic Habitat experiment is one of the first researches enabling to evaluate the effect of real space flight on the whole genome of vertebrate and invertebrate water organisms.
- It is a study of how a space flight influences the molecular and genetic properties of medaka in microgravity and penetrating radiation. AquaticHabitat experiment is especially interesting as medaka spent a lot of time with the temperature and water quality constantly controlled; it means that their delivery to the ISS produced almost no stress effect on the experiment results.
Olga Kozlova clarified that the biological material was fixed in the station with RNA and DNA stabilization reagents. The fish were frozen to minimize the external stress effect and transferred to a scientific laboratory on the Earth.
The research held by Olga was based on the sequenced data received in the joint project of the JAXA Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Science.
- The differential expression of some groups of genes connected with the essential processes in medaka's heart was demonstrated in the space. Lower expression was shown in main heart proteins: myosin and troponin.
Biologists were interested to learn if medaka fish will experience any changes resulted from the new living conditions.
- It is believed that fish as they live in water should be less affected by the space. But the results proved that molecularly the fish have experienced heavy space pressure regardless the fact that water lowered the microgravity pressure.
Olga Kozlova emphasized that medaka's appearance and morphological properties including weight turned to be constant. However, there were crucial genetic and molecular changes.
- Perhaps, there is a special system of genetic expression regulation related to the effect of the muscular system undercharged in the microgravity, that is a direct immediate consequence of the effect of a space flight to the genetic expression.