Space Nematodes: A Giant Leap for Interplanetary Agriculture - Agricultural Research

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-22 Tue 11:43
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500Foods shared this story from "agriculture" - Google News.

WASHINGTON, DC, September, 22, 2020—In a successful return-to-space mission, research study results indicate that beneficial insect-killing nematodes (small round worms) can be used in the future for natural control of insect pests when humans are growing crops in space. The research objective was to study entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes (EPNs) foraging and infection dynamics in space onboard the International Space Station (ISS) between December 2019 and January 2020.

These beneficial roundworms may have "what it takes" for controlling pest insects that threaten crops grown aboard during long-term human missions in space. That's the implication of findings from experiments conducted aboard the ISS and published in the journal npj|Microgravity. EPNs are insect parasites used to naturally control insect pests that damage crops, that's why investigating the efficacy of EPNs in a unique environment like the one provided by the ISS (e.g. an apparent state of weightlessness) could help establish successful agriculture and plant protection in space.

Here on Earth, insects have great abilities for finding, eating and multiplying in their favorite plants and crops. Nowadays, with a very dynamic world travel scene and extensive commercial activities, it is even easier for insects to move around globally and wreak havoc on crops. Now there is concern that these pests could extend their abilities (and appetite!) to crops grown in space for long term travel or habitation.

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