29% heavier than Earth’s and more productive
What weird food will our next generation grow up with?
The Singapore Food Authority has just approved 16 kinds of edible insects such as moths and crickets to be sold in the local market, and the latest news: Singaporeans will eat “space vegetables” in the future.
Last year, Singapore participated in the “Send Asian Seeds to Space Program” led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The International Space Station “travel” back to China for a month to understand how the space environment affects their growth characteristics.
These seeds were kept in sealed bags during their stay in the space station. Japan sent the seeds back to Singapore a few days ago, and then Singaporean researchers planted these seeds that traveled through space locally. On December 12, they first published the coriander. Research result.
They found that the coriander seeds that had been in space turned into super seeds, which could grow coriander weighing 41.4 grams; those that had not been in space could only grow 32.1 grams. In comparison, it is about 29% heavier.
There is a strong lineup of institutions participating in this project, including the Singapore Food Agency, Singapore Aerospace and Technology Corporation, Singapore Genome Research Institute, and SingHealth Duke-NUS Biodiversity Medical Research Institute .
The researchers note that space radiation and microgravity (loss of weight) cause genetic mutations in the seeds, producing random but potentially beneficial traits.
Scientists from the Genome Institute and SingHealth’s Duke-NUS Biodiversity Institute for Medical Research conducted a genetic analysis of the leaves, roots and stems of these cilantro and found that they have hundreds of genes related to growth compared with common cilantro. Related genes were activated in different ways.
The scientists noted that exposure to space produced gene expression that could lead to marked differences in plant yield.
They also say more research will be done to understand the effects of spaceflight on plant genes and DNA.
They will also investigate the plant breeding potential of space-mutated seeds to produce hardy crops and new vegetable varieties. These crops will effectively increase food security as they are resistant to disease and harsher climates.
Space breeding is not a new concept. China has carried out space breeding since 1987. Through space shuttles such as returnable satellites, the germplasm of animal and plant microorganisms is brought to extraterrestrial space, induced to mutate and mutate, and the breeding technology of breeding new varieties on the ground after returning.
Over the past 35 years, China has bred more than 200 varieties of space-mutated crops, including rice, corn, soybeans and watermelons.
However, Dr. Naweed Naqvi, a senior researcher at the Temasek Institute of Life Sciences, commented on the project in Singapore that breeding in space is currently not economically viable, and its impact may be widespread, uncontrolled and non-specific.
Dr Naweed Naqvi told The Straits Times that some types of radiation, such as gamma rays, are commonly used in plant research to produce mutations and to understand plant growth and breeding. In contrast, gene editing is more precise and pollution-free, and less time-consuming, because it is based on previous knowledge to manipulate specific genetic targets or pathways, he said.
Professor Yu Hao, director of the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore, believes that in order to develop sustainable super crop production methods, you can try to apply space radiation and compare the results with gene editing and other mutation methods that can be easily carried out on the earth. Research.
Gillian Chin, Singapore project leader of the “Send Asian Seeds to Space Program”, said that the program is to provide an opportunity for students and young researchers in the Asia-Pacific region to understand and learn about astrobiology.
12 Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions including Singapore: Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia, Nepal, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Bangladesh sent a total of 22 types of seeds into space.
Countries sent selected seeds to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency last year, where they were sent to the International Space Station on a spacecraft delivering supplies to astronauts.
The “Send Asian Seeds to Space Program” also selected sweet basil from Japan and holy basil from Malaysia, and planted them in the experimental cabin of “Kibo” in Japan for a month, and the astronauts recorded and photographed their growth , and finally sent back to the earth for analysis and trait research, and all planting data will also be provided to the countries and regions participating in this project for research.
Scientists have not forgotten those seeds that have no chance to fly out of the earth. They have also been trying to use gene editing technology, such as increasing the nutrients in lettuce, or making cabbage grow faster.