Space farming feasible, says study by JPL, UoH

Space farming feasible, says study by JPL, UoH
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Space farming feasible, says study by JPL, UoH

Highlights

♦ A recent discovery of new bacterial strains from different locations aboard the ISS flights may help in creating the 'fuel' to help plants...

A recent discovery of new bacterial strains from different locations aboard the ISS flights may help in creating the 'fuel' to help plants withstand stressful situations

♦ Strains might possess biotechnologically useful genetic determinants that may help growing plants in extreme places where resources are minimal

♦ Novel species named Methylobacteriumajmalii, in honour of renowned Indian biodiversity scientist Dr Ajmal Khan

♦ Lead authors say that the strains might possess biotechnologically useful genetic determinants that may help growing plants in extreme places where resources are minimal. However, further experimental validations are being done to prove that it could, indeed, be a potential game-changer for space farming

Gachibowli : A collaborative discovery of novel bacterial strains aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and University of Hyderabad (UoH) suggest that it could be possible for astronauts to grow their own foods in the space stations (space farming) and enjoy the benefits of naturally grown vegetables.

A recent discovery of new bacterial strains from different locations aboard the ISS flights may help in creating the 'fuel' to help plants withstand stressful situations. The bacterial strains belonging to the family Methylobacteriaceae were isolated from different locations aboard the ISS across two consecutive flights.

While one strain was identified as Methylorubrumrhodesianum, the other three were previously undiscovered and belonged to a novel species. Genetic analyses revealed them to be closely related to Methylobacteriumindicum. The researchers named the novel species as Methylobacteriumajmalii, in honour of the renowned Indian biodiversity scientist Dr Ajmal Khan (former Professor at Annamalai University).

Commenting on the discovery and based on the genomic data, the lead authors said that the strains might possess biotechnologically useful genetic determinants that may help growing plants in extreme places where resources are minimal. However, further experimental validations are being done to prove that it could, indeed, be a potential game-changer for space farming.

These research findings are a collaborative effort of three organisations from the USA. The research teams were led by Dr KasthuriVenkateswaran (NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and CC Wang (WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction) and Prof Appa Rao Podile from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) with expertise on plant growth promoting bacteria and plant microbiome and Dr Ramprasad (CSIR-pool Scientist).

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