Arabidopsis gene expression in hypobaria

A set of Arabidopsis plants begin to flower on a windowsill. The view through the window has been edited to depict a view of Rocheport Ridge of Endeavor Crater on Mars, a photo taken by NASA Rover Opportunity in April, 2017 (Mars image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University/Arizona State University).

Extreme hypobaria represents an environment that is mostly outside of the evolutionary experience of terrestrial plants, and yet hypobaria may be a part of plant habitats in support of human space exploration. A greenhouse on the surface of Mars, as well as in transit vehicles and space habitats, can be envisioned to operate below the evolutionarily accustomed terrestrial pressures. In a recent Editor’s Choice article published in AoB PLANTS, Paul et al. show how plants use new patterns of gene expression to physiologically adapt to wide changes in atmospheric pressure over time, and provide an insight into how the effects of hypobaria can be mitigated or utilized for plant growth in support of exploration.