Scientists Create a Type of Rice that Could Grow in Soil on Mars

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    In order to colonize Mars, humanity will have to rely on plant seeds that can grow and bear fruit on the planet’s hostile surface, as spaceships will not be able to carry tons of food for such long voyages.

    Now, a new solution to this problem points to a type of genetically edited rice that has been created by scientists at the University of Arkansas in the United States. The artificial food was publicly announced at the 54th Conference on Lunar and Planetary Sciences, a statement from the think tank indicates.

    Testing the artificial plant

    One of the main challenges for growing food in the soil of the red planet is the abundant presence of perchlorate salts, a toxic substance that is detrimental to plant growth, according to various studies.

    With this in mind, the Arkansas team of experts carried out a series of tests on the Mojave Mars Simulant (MMS), a Martian soil simulator developed by NASA. This ‘martian garden’ uses basalt-rich soil extracted from the Mojave desert (California, USA). There, they tested 3 varieties of rice: one of the wild type and another 2 that were genetically edited to better resist stress situations such as drought, lack of sugar, or salinity.

    Then, the results were compared with the cultivation of the 3 cereals in potting soil and hybrid soil, which combines the 2 types of soil mentioned above. Although the artificial vegetable was able to grow in the Martian simulator, it did not develop as well as those that grew in the other 2 environments, the statement said. However, the results improved when a quarter of the MMMS simulant was replaced with potting soil.

    Next experiments to be done

    The team, led by biologist Peter James Gann and planetary scientist Abhilash Ramachandran, plans to run further breeding experiments in a new simulator called the Mars Global Simulant, as well as test other rice strains with higher tolerance to salt concentrations.

    Later, they indicated, they would like to grow rice in a closed chamber that replicates the planet’s atmosphere and temperature. Meanwhile, the researchers say their findings could have applications on Earth, such as growing crops in areas where the soil has high salinity.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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