Researchers find sex in space could lead to life-threatening illnesses

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« on: March 15, 2013, 01:13:09 AM »
Space tourists hoping to join the ’220-mile  high club’ have been brought back to Earth by new research showing sex in space  wrecks health.
Experiments on plants show changes in gravity  damages cells – and could lead to life-threatening illnesses.
Rumours have abounded for over a decade  astronauts have already done the deed although NASA and the Russian government  has denied these.
Now scientists say zero gravity affects  processes involved in reproduction, brain diseases – and even  cancer.
A study found gravity modulates cell ‘highway  traffic’ that ensures the growth and functionality of the male reproductive  organ in plants – the pollen tube.
Professor Anja Geitmann, a biologist at  Montreal University, said: ‘Just like during human reproduction the sperm cells  in plants are delivered to the egg by a cylindrical tool.
‘Unlike the delivery tool in animals the  device used during plant sex consists of a single cell – and only two sperm  cells are discharged during each delivery event.
‘Our findings offer new insight into how life  evolved on Earth and are significant with regards to human health, as a traffic  jam on these highways that also exist in human cells can cause cancer and  illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.’
The interior of animal and plant cells is  like a city, with factories called organelles – dedicated to manufacturing,  energy production and waste processing.
A network of intracellular ‘highways’ enables  the communication between these factories and the delivery of cargo between them  and between the inside of the cell and its external environment. Plant cells  have a particularly busy highway system.
Professor Geitmann, whose study is published  in PLOS ONE, said: ‘Researchers already knew humans, animals and plants have  evolved in response to Earth’s gravity and they are able to sense  it.
A a pollen grain with pollen tubes, viewed in the scanning electron microscope
 
A a pollen grain with pollen tubes, viewed in the  scanning electron microscope. Researchers experimented on the plants in zero  gravity conditions, and found their reproductive capabilities were  affected
‘What we are still discovering is how the  processes occurring within the cells of the human and plant bodies are affected  by the more intense gravity, or hypergravity, that would be found on a large  planet, or the microgravity that resembles the conditions on a space  craft.
‘Intracellular transport processes are  particularly sensitive to disturbance, with dramatic consequences for cell  functioning. How these processes are affected by a change in gravity is poorly  understood.’
In the tests plant cells were placed into a  large centrifuge along with a camera attached to a microscope enabling the  researchers to track in real time how they develop in the intense gravity  generated by the machine.
Co-researcher Dr Youssef Chebli said: ‘Thanks  to the facilities at the European Space Agency I was able to determine how  hypergravity and simulated microgravity affect the intracellular trafficking in  the rapidly growing pollen tube.Pollen grains attached to the stigma, the female organ of the plant used in the experiments
Pollen grains attached to the stigma, the female organ  of the plant used in the experiments
‘We chose pollen – the carrier of the male  sperm cells – as our model because of its pivotal role in plant reproduction and  agriculture and because of its extraordinarily rapid growth, meaning we could  observe the effects of the hypergravity within seconds.’
The researchers stained specific structures  within the cells which revealed how the components move around and how the  cellular transport logistics responds to the changing gravity  environment.
Dr Chebli said: “We found intracellular  traffic flow is compromised under hyper-gravity conditions and both hyper and  microgravity affect the precisely coordinated construction of the cellular  envelope in the growing cell.
‘This allows us not only to understand  general principles of the reproductive mechanism in plants but, more  importantly, how the intracellular transport machinery in eukaryotic cells  responds to altered gravity conditions.
‘Our findings have implications for human  health as similar effects are likely to occur in human cells such as neurons  where long distance intracellular transport is crucial.’
While humans have been a spacefaring species  for over 50 years it’s doubtful we’ve yet performed the most basic of acts  despite the introduction of mixed-gender crews in 1983.
NASA doesn’t explicitly forbid sex while  zipping round Earth at 17,500 mph but its code of conduct calls for  “relationships of trust” and “professional standards” to be maintained at all  times.
But sex in space will happen eventually  because manned missions to Mars would last years so abstinence for that long  would be a tall order for most people.
 
And sex would likely be a natural part of  life at a lunar or Mars base – especially if the aim is to one day establish a  self-sustaining colony.
The rise of private spaceflight should open  the door even more to sex in space.
Virgin Galactic hopes to start flying  tourists to suborbital space next year.
It has already turned down a $1 million offer  from an unidentified party to aid in the production of a sex-in-space  movie.
http://worldduh.com/2013/03/14/researchers-find-sex-in-space-could-lead-to-life-threatening-illnesses/