Pretty soon, we’re going to have to leave this planet behind. While we quickly work to make Mars habitable, scientists are currently studying a plant they believe will help us learn to to grow food on the harsh planet.
The Wall Street Journal reports that scientists have found and isolated the DNA sequence of the Nicotiana benthamiana, an ancient tobacco plant from Australia. The plant has a genetic trait that helps it survive in harsh environments. Figuring out how to shut down its immune system, scientists are now able to let the plant focus on self-seeding and growing quickly.
Much like Australia, space doesn’t have any pathogens for plants to worry about getting sick from. The WSJ says that because they’re no longer focused on fighting disease, the plants will focus all their energy into growing fast and surviving the harsh environments.
Thanks to this discovery, we might soon be able to grow food on Mars.