China’s first ‘space rice’

Rice from heaven

China’s first batch of rice seeds that traveled 23 days in space on the Chang’e-5 lunar probe in November 2020 has begun yielding grain, which experts said will enrich China’s grain varieties and safeguard the country’s food security, and lay reason for future manned deep-space explorations to the moon, Mars and other celestial bodies.

After over four months of development, the dropping ears of the 2,000 “space rice plants” at the space breeding research center of the South China Agricultural University in South China’s Guangdong Province promise a productive harvest, as researchers bagged the seeds that are each 1 centimeter long into three large parcels, China Media Group reported on Sunday.

The best seeds will be bred in laboratories and later planted in fields, which are expected to offer new varieties of rice that would support China’s grain harvest and enhance the breeding business’ efficiency, said Guo Tao, deputy director at the research center, as per the China Media Group’s report.

The subject generated heated conversation among Chinese netizens, who wondered when the “rice from heaven” will arrive at their dinner tables. In response, Guo said it would in any case take three to four years before the rice enters the market.

“It will take a few more generations and go through a series of tests, examinations and regional preliminaries before passing common and state-level reviews,” Xu Lei, a rice breeding expert based in one of China’s significant rice creation fields of Panjin, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, told the Global Times on Sunday.

He noted that lone high-yielding, top-notch varieties that prove to be resistant to diseases would be authoritatively recognized as stable varieties that could be promoted nationwide.

The space seeds can likewise contribute to China’s crossover rice breeding, Guo said. By applying the space breeding technology to super crossover rice, the seeds can provide more and better genetic sources to expand the seed bank.

Space breeding has consistently been an unrelenting enthusiasm for scientists throughout the planet to examine the influence of vast beams, and a vacuum, microgravity space environment on organic entities from the Earth, Wang Ya’nan, a space examiner and chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Sunday.

With the Chang’e-5 lunar probe, rice seeds have traveled into deep space, where a wider range of challenges adds to the complexity of space breeding – yet where the process additionally produces more huge genetic effects that enhance people’s understanding of life science in space, experts noted.

Such technology in China won’t be limited to conveying seeds, Wang added, yet it could likewise lead to planting in space for longer terms when China’s space station begins to operate.

“With long haul human stays at the space station, researchers are wanting to direct experiments to test a self-recycling ecosystem in space, which will greatly reduce expenses and reduce the resources needed for future manned spaceflights. This will uphold more deep-space explorations, including the structure of a lunar research base and manned missions to Mars,”

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