Plant growth on the moon could be made easier by adding bacteria to the soil to produce phosphorus, an essential element for plant growth not readily available in lunar soil.
Lunar regolith, the powdery dust on the moon’s surface, is not a good environment for plants to grow. Researchers previously grew terres watercress, a small flowering plant, in real lunar regolith collected during the Apollo mission, but those have changed. The main reason for this is a lack of the nutrients necessary for plant growth, which causes them to become small and stunted.
now, San Gencai and his colleagues at China Agricultural University in Beijing have shown that three strains of phosphorus-producing bacteria can be used in simulated lunar soil by converting calcium phosphate, which is not readily available to plants, into bioavailable phosphorus. We have discovered that you can improve your nutritional profile.
Sun and his team added three bacteria. Bacillus mucilaginosus, bacillus megatherium and Pseudomonas fluorescenswas injected into the soil and found that all three species increased phosphorus levels by more than 200 percent after three weeks.
Tobacco plant (Nicotiana benthamiana) Plants grown for six days in soil containing these bacteria had longer stems and roots than plants grown in soil without the bacteria. Plants grown in soil with bacteria grew four times as heavy as their counterparts.Levels of the pigment chlorophyll The energy used by plants to convert light into chemical energy for growth increased by more than 100% in the three samples containing bacteria after 24 days.
While this is a useful demonstration, phosphorus is not the only thing plants need to grow properly. carl hasenstein at the University of Louisiana. “There needs to be a balance between fortification of essential elements, not just phosphorus,” he says. Other properties of the soil, such as acidity, are also important but were not monitored in the study, he says.
A more fruitful approach may be to combine different microbial species to create favorable nutritional profiles. This is similar to soils on Earth, which can contain thousands of different bacterial species that produce the nutrients needed for growth, Hasenstein said.