The Chinese will plant 12,000 seeds on Earth that have grown in space. They could have undergone genetic mutations

Credit image: COSE/Chonqing University
Credit image: COSE/Chonqing University

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 05 July 2022, at 08:57 am Los Angeles time

Chinese researchers have begun breeding experiments on 12,000 seeds that have been raised in space for six months inside the Shenzhou-13 manned vehicle.

The seeds, including alfalfa, oats and mushrooms, were selected last year by several research institutions. They were brought back to Earth by Shenzhou-13 in April.

Growth in space involves the process of exposing seeds to cosmic radiation and microgravity during a space flight mission. The seeds, which thus undergo genetic mutations, are then sent back to Earth to generate new species.

Space reproduction experiments were performed in all flight missions during the essential technology verification phase of China's space station project. Thousands of seeds and microorganisms from 88 organizations were transported into space and brought back to Earth by Shenzhou-12 and Shenzhou-13.

Researchers at M-Grass, a technology company in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of northern China, conducted experiments on six stalks of grass aboard the Shenzhou-13. This is the second time the company has sent seeds into space, after bringing back mutated grass species with the Chang'e-5 selenium probe in 2020.

After selection and subsequent planting, the superior seed varieties will be used for ecological restoration and urban landscaping, said Liu Siyang, chief researcher at the company.

On October 16, 2021, the Shenzhou-13 mission sent three Chinese astronauts - called taikonauts - to the central module of the Chinese space station in a six-month mission - the longest in the country's manned human space program.

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