Biologists have found a way to create plants that can survive on other planets

Oct

21

2018

The construction of a colony of earthlings outside our planet rests on one very serious problem: the lack of resources for food, agriculture and, of course, oxygen. All these problems could be solved if the earth’s flora could grow beyond the third planet from the Sun, but numerous experiments suggest that this is not the case. However, a group of experts from Switzerland was able to find a way to modify the plants so that they remain viable outside the Earth.

For the research are scientists from the University of Zurich, led by a biologist Lorenzo Borghi. Of course, the problems described above could be solved by the delivery of soil and nutrient mixtures to other planets, but Borghi and his colleagues believe that this is extremely inexpedient. Firstly, it will exhaust the already not infinite resources of the Earth, and secondly, this is an extremely expensive undertaking. As Mr. Borgi said in an interview with Digital Trends,

“Food production is and is likely to be a big problem in the coming decades due to the growth of the world’s population, a decrease in arable land and limited fertilizer resources. Food production in the laboratory or on the territories of other planets will be extremely difficult, since it is very likely that they are much poorer in nutrients than our agricultural land. ”

To overcome such limitations, scientists propose modifying plants using a special hormone that will force them to enter into symbiotic relationships with soil fungi. Such a connection exists in nature, but is not so common. It provides a more complete absorption of resources like water, nitrogen and phosphates and helps both organisms (and plants and fungi) survive in the conditions in which they would die individually.

Using the hormone strigolactone, scientists derived a petunia species that not only lives very well in symbiosis with mushrooms, but also requires an extremely small amount of soil and nutrients for development, because in such a symbiosis mushrooms create something like “soil imitation.”

“We tested our plants and found that they can get high levels of substances and continue to grow even in microgravity. Therefore, we assume that such plants can become the main one for farming on other planets and during long missions on space ships. ”

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