Can Bacteria Provide Food In Space?
A German team is trying to figure out if bacteria can be used to make food for astronauts in space.
The organisms in the study will be a strain of cyanobacteria called Anabaena. Cyanobacteria are a group of bacteria that sustain themselves with photosynthesis, just like plants. They’re sometimes called blue-green algae, but they’re bacteria. It’s not clear if these organisms will be viable in space after they’re rehydrated, but there’s only one way to find out.
The Anabaena cells that will be used are from a strain that has been genetically modified to excrete some of the sugar it produces. A second type of bacteria known as Bacillus subtilis will be on-board as well. This bacterium will be modified to process the sugar molecules into a red pigment, which can be detected by the satellite’s sensors.
Fans of Bruce Sterling's 1988 novel Islands in the Net may recall the tasty scop, protein from bacteria.
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