A team of Chinese scientists may have successfully developed a way to breed mangoes in space following a series of tests conducted during the Shenzhou-11 mission last year.
Embryonic cells of the fruit, which were brought back from the 33-day space mission last November, have grown new tissue at a research lab in Hainan province. Project leader Peng Longrong recently unveiled healthy green buds of what can be called the world’s first “space mangoes,” China Daily reports.
With the intention of cultivating a new variety of mango, the Chinese astronauts conducted experiments which involved a variety of breeding methods on mangoes.
The fruits were subjected to different conditions to influence them on how to adapt and develop “advantageous genetic traits.”
After the successful cultivation of a new variety of mango from environmental mutation, the research team is now studying how this would affect the fruit. If proven beneficial, the team would further cultivate the breed that will be known as “space mangoes”.
“Space mangoes are expected to be insect-resistant, of higher quality and provide more output,” said Peng told CCTV.
Scientists have long been trying to develop plants that can eventually grow in space. A breakthrough would not only help provide food for the astronauts but also psychological benefits for long-term space flight.
In 2015, NASA astronauts were able to grow the first vegetables in space in the form of red romaine lettuces via its plant experiment “Veg-01” in the Veggie plant growth system on the International Space Station.