Navigation Links
Low-maintenance strawberry may be good crop to grow in space

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Astronauts could one day tend their own crops on long space missions, and Purdue University researchers have found a healthy candidate to help satisfy a sweet tooth - a strawberry that requires little maintenance and energy.

Cary Mitchell, professor of horticulture, and Gioia Massa, a horticulture research scientist, tested several cultivars of strawberries and found one variety, named Seascape, which seems to meet the requirements for becoming a space crop.

"What we're trying to do is grow our plants and minimize all of our inputs," Massa said. "We can grow these strawberries under shorter photoperiods than we thought and still get pretty much the same amount of yield."

Seascape strawberries are day-neutral, meaning they aren't sensitive to the length of available daylight to flower. Seascape was tested with as much as 20 hours of daylight and as little as 10 hours. While there were fewer strawberries with less light, each berry was larger and the volume of the yields was statistically the same.

"I was astounded that even with a day-neutral cultivar we were able to get basically the same amount of fruit with half the light," Mitchell said.

The findings, which were reported online early in the journal Advances in Space Research, showed that the Seascape strawberry cultivar is a good candidate for a space crop because it meets several guidelines set by NASA. Strawberry plants are relatively small, meeting mass and volume restrictions. Since Seascape provides fewer, but larger, berries under short days, there is less labor required of crew members who would have to pollinate and harvest the plants by hand. Needing less light cuts down energy requirements not only for lamps, but also for systems that would have to remove heat created by those lights.

"We're trying to think of the whole system -- growing food, preparing it and getting rid of the waste," Massa said. "Strawberries are easy to prepare and there's little waste."

Seascape also had less cycling, meaning it steadily supplied fruit throughout the test period. Massa said the plants kept producing fruit for about six months after starting to flower.

Mitchell said the earliest space crops will likely be part of a "salad machine," a small growth unit that will provide fresh produce that can supplement traditional space meals. Crops being considered include lettuces, radishes and tomatoes. Strawberries may be the only sweet fruit being considered, he said.

"The idea is to supplement the human diet with something people can look forward to," Mitchell said. "Fresh berries can certainly do that."

Judith Santini, a research statistical analyst in Purdue's Department of Agronomy, was responsible for data analysis from the tests.

Mitchell and Massa said they next plan to test Seascape strawberries using LED lighting, hydroponics and different temperature ranges. NASA funded their work.


Contact: Brian Wallheimer
Purdue University

Related biology news :

1. Hydrocooling shows promise for reducing strawberry weight loss, bruising
2. Carnegie Mellon engineers develop machine that visually inspects and sorts strawberry plants
3. Methyl bromide alternatives for California strawberry nurseries
4. Insect release proposed to control exotic strawberry guava
5. Strawberry fields ripe for the picking
6. ARES Aerospace and Defense Division Receives AS9100 Certification
7. Out of this world: New study investigates infection of human cells in space
8. Children use space to think about time
9. Conservation from space: Landscape diversity helps to conserve insects
10. Global warming and other environmental dangers may be solved by unlikely source -- space technology
11. Space agencies join forces to systematically observe climate variables
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Low-maintenance strawberry may be good crop to grow in space
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today ... distribution of its DNA library preparation products, including ... new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been ... of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of ... prognostic applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... 27, 2015 Munich, Germany ... Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye ... , so that they can be quantitatively analyzed ... Munich, Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s ... from mobile eye tracking videos created with SMI,s ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... DUBLIN , Oct. 23, 2015 Research ... of the "Global Voice Recognition Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... --> --> The global voice recognition ... during 2014-2019. --> ... 2015-2019, has been prepared based on an in-depth market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Copper is an essential ... bound to proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million ... (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered in ... has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 of 2015.  ... Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... the establishment of an Asia-Pacific office to ... and Mexico , with the establishment ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model ... Group (SIG), MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View ... years. Many AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several new model ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced that its Annual General Meeting of Shareholders ... Israel time, at the law offices of Goldfarb Seligman ... Floor, Tel Aviv, Israel . ... to the Board of Directors; , election of Liat ... an amendment to certain terms of options granted to our Chief Executive ...
Breaking Biology Technology: