2018 - Interaction of Gravity with Cellular Compounds
Port-a-Patch book chapter in Gravitational Biology II (2018)
Hanke W., Kohn F.P.M., Neef M. Hampp R.
In: Gravitational Biology II, Chapter 1 (2018) pp. 1-32
During evolution, the majority of organisms have developed specific sensors for gravity, the only constant environmental cue on earth. Nevertheless, a variety of gravity effects on molecular, cellular, and physiological level has also been reported in single-cell organisms and cell types of plants and animals which do not seem to possess specific sensors. We have found that the cellular membrane, common to all cells, itself is interacting with gravity by changing its fluidity. Thus, it delivers a basic mechanism for gravity perception for all existing cells and living systems. In the following, we discuss the physical principles and the consequences of our findings for membrane-bound processes, for life on earth, and for manned space travel. In addition, a first model is proposed, how a sensor system for gravity based on membrane thermodynamics could be structured.