April 17, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

Complete Canadian News World

Powers grown in space could pose a deadly problem

Powers grown in space could pose a deadly problem

In general, salad is good for you, so growing fresh vegetables in orbit seems like a winning way for astronauts to stay healthy. New research suggests that although space salad is nutritious, it may pose a risk to astronauts.

The problem is that growing leafy plants like lettuce and spinach in space could come with a side dish of bacteria, according to a new study by a team at the University of Delaware. In tests on plants grown in simulated microgravity, it was found that they are actually more susceptible than usual to the elements the Salmonella enterica Pathogenic factors.

We know that the International Space Station (ISS) is home to a lot of aggressive bacteria and fungi, and if these space microbes cause widespread illness among the astronaut crew, then lives are at risk.

The researchers looked at the interaction between bacteria and plant stomata. (Totslein et al., Scientific reports2024)

“You don't want the whole mission to fail just because of a food safety outbreak.” He says Plant biologist Harsh Pais of the University of Delaware.

Paes and his colleagues used a device called a Clinostat To perform some clever rotation tricks in the lab, put lettuce plants in a state similar to what they would be in microgravity. Then they added S. intestinalis Bacteria to leaves.

What was interesting – and surprising – was this little thing Stomatal pores In lettuce open to allow bacteria to invade. Normally, the job of stomata is to keep away dangerous attackers, while at the same time helping the plant breathe.

The researchers then added a more beneficial type of bacteria, one that normally protects plants from external stresses. And again, the defenses didn't work in microgravity, suggesting that there was something in this condition disrupting the chemical reactions that lettuce normally uses to keep itself safe.

See also  This Giant Gorgosaurus Fossil is Up for Auction

“fact that [the stomata] “They remained open when we were presenting them with what appeared to be pressure that was really unexpected.” He says Botanist Noah Totslein of the University of Delaware.

“In fact, the plant didn't know which way was up or down. We were kind of confusing their response to gravity.”

While previous studies have shown that space lettuce is as safe and nutritious as similar plants growing on Earth, the new research suggests that it may have difficulties ward off infection in the usual way.

Add to that what we know about alien bacteria being particularly nasty, and this is a potential problem. The team behind the study wants to see more research to confirm that our foodstuffs are safe beyond orbit, with the possibility of genetic modifications.

“We need to prepare for and reduce risks in space for those who now live on the International Space Station and for those who may live there in the future.” He says University of Delaware microbiologist Callie Knell.

“It is important to better understand how bacterial pathogens interact with microgravity in order to develop appropriate mitigation strategies.”

The research was published in Scientific reports And Microgravity NPJ.