Scanning Microscopy


Brine shrimp are encysted as gastrula stage embryos, and may remain dehydrated and encysted for years without compromising their viability. This aspect of brine shrimp biology is desirable for studying development of animals during space shuttle flight, as cysts placed aboard a spacecraft may be rehydrated at the convenience of an astronaut, guaranteeing that subsequent brine shrimp development occurs only on orbit and not on the pad during launch delays.

Brine shrimp cysts placed in 5 ml syringes were rehydrated with salt water and hatched during a 9 day space shuttle mission. Subsequent larvae developed to the 8th larval stage in the sealed syringes. We studied the morphogenesis of the brine shrimp larvae and found the larvae from the space shuttle experiments similar in rate of growth and extent of development, to larvae grown in sealed syringes on the ground. Extensive differentiation and development of embryos and larvae can occur in a microgravity environment.

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