A giant leap for interplanetary agriculture

Space nematodes: A giant leap for interplanetary agriculture
ARS entomologist David Shapiro-Ilan prepares nematode samples for the trip to space from the Space Life Sciences Laboratory, Kennedy Space Center in Merritt, Florida. Credit: Laura Lucy-Ilan

In a successful return-to-space mission, research study results indicate that beneficial insect-killing nematodes (small round worms) can be used in the future for natural control of insect pests when humans are growing crops in space. The research objective was to study entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes (EPNs) foraging and infection dynamics in space onboard the International Space Station (ISS) between December 2019 and January 2020.

These beneficial roundworms may have “what it takes” for controlling pest insects that threaten crops grown aboard during long-term human missions in space. That’s the implication of findings from experiments conducted aboard the ISS and published in the journal npj Microgravity. EPNs are insect parasites used to naturally control insect pests that damage crops, that’s why investigating the efficacy

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