Humanity has been growing salads in space for years, but findings show vegetables grown this way could be more harmful to health

2024-02-24 18:10:02

JVTech News Humanity has been growing salads in space for years, but findings show vegetables grown this way could be more harmful to health

Published on 02/24/2024 at 7:10 p.m.

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A disturbing experience has just taken place in Space. Astronauts grew vegetables in space and the result was not at all what was expected. Space lettuces are dangerous.

Vegetables in Space?

For several years, the idea of ​​growing vegetables in space has appealed. This would allow astronauts to have access to fresh, local products and limit their dependence on food transported from Earth. However, a recent study conducted by
researchers from the University of Delaware
comes to dampen the enthusiasm. Their findings reveal that lettuce and other vegetables grown in microgravity present an increased risk of contamination by harmful bacteria, such as the infamous Salmonella.

The study, funded by NASA, focused on growing lettuce in simulated microgravity conditions using a rotating device called a clinostat. The researchers observed that, in this artificial spatial environment, plants tend to open their stomata more, these tiny pores located on the leaves and stems which allow gas exchange. Gold, these gaping openings facilitate the intrusion of pathogens such as Salmonella.

The research team also tested the use of a beneficial bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, known for its protective properties against pathogens. Unfortunately, this bacteria, although effective on Earth, turned out to be powerless against Salmonella in the simulated microgravity environment. These results suggest that space significantly modifies the interactions between plants and microorganisms.

Agriculture in Space is on the wrong track

This discovery has important implications for the future of space agriculture and the health of astronauts. She questions the safety of salads eaten aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and highlights the challenges to be met to healthily feed the future inhabitants of space colonies.

There is an urgent need to develop agricultural methods adapted to microgravity, reducing the vulnerability of plants to pathogens and ensuring the production of healthy and nutritious vegetables in space.

The healthy cultivation of vegetables in space will be an undeniable step forward in improving the daily lives of astronauts and reducing their dependence on terrestrial supplies. Except that for the moment the increased presence of bacteria like Salmonella in space vegetables calls into question their safety.

Why want to cultivate in Space?

If microgravity cultivation poses health risks, alternatives should be explored. In vitro food production, from animal or plant cells, could offer a safer and more controlled solution.

This discovery highlights the importance of research and development in the field of space agriculture. It is necessary to adapt cultural techniques to microgravity, to select plant varieties more resistant to pathogens and to develop biological protection methods adapted to space.

If feeding astronauts on short-term missions already poses challenges, feeding entire populations in permanent space colonies will be even more complex. University of Delaware study highlights need to anticipate these challenges and to develop sustainable and safe food systems for space inhabitants.

Growing vegetables in space is a hopeful innovation, but it is not without risks. The University of Delaware study reminds us that adapting to the space environment requires ongoing research and development efforts to ensure food security for astronauts and future inhabitants. Because the challenge of tomorrow is to be able to live and travel through Space.

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