The Plant Was Grown for the First Time in Lunar Soil
Realizing a first in the history of mankind, scientists have grown plants for the first time in the soil brought from the Moon. The new development marks an important milestone in the exploration journey of the Moon and space.
Researchers at the University of Florida have shown in a new article published yesterday in the Communications Biology newsletter that plants can successfully sprout and grow in the Lunar soil. The study also investigated how plants respond biologically to lunar soil. This soil, known as the lunar regolith, is quite different from the soil found on Earth.
The new study is the first step towards growing plants for food and oxygen on the Moon one day or during space missions. More importantly, shortly after the published study, people will go back to the Moon with the Artemis Program.
Co-author Rob Ferl, a professor of horticultural sciences at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida, said: “How to plant in space for Artemis
To start answering these questions, Ferl and Paul designed a simple experiment and added seeds, water, nutrients and light to the Lunar soil. But don’t be fooled by the fact that the experiment is simple.
Scientists had a significant problem in front of them: the lunar soil to be used when conducting experiments was only 12 grams (only a few teaspoons). This earth, borrowed from NASA, was collected during the Apollo 11, 12 and 17 missions to the Moon. Paul and Ferl applied three times over an 11-year period to get a chance to work with the Lunar regolith.
The incalculable importance of the soil from a historical and scientific point of view, as well as its small amount, meant that Paul and Ferl had to design a small-scale, carefully adjusted experiment. In order to perform October operations in small lunar gardens, the researchers placed wells the size of sewing thimbles on plastic plates normally used in cell culture. Each of these structures has served as a good flower pot. Researchers put each ”flower pot” about one gram
According to Paul, all these are physical signs that indicate that plants are trying to combat the chemical and structural composition of the lunar soil. When the researchers analyzed the gene expression patterns of plants, this was re-confirmed.
“At the genetic level, plants had resorted to tools that were usually used to combat stress elements such as salts and metals or oxidative stress, ” says Paul. “Therefore, we deduced from this that the lunar environment is stressful for plants. Ultimately, using these gene expression data, how can we pull stress responses to the level where plants (especially crops) are exposed to little influence in the lunar soil? We want to take care of him.”
Ferl and Paul say that the way plants respond to Lunar soil may be related to where the soil is collected.
For example, researchers have discovered that the plants that show the most signs of stress are plants that grow in soil that geoscientists call mature Lunar soil. These mature soils are formed due to the cosmic wind, which changes their composition