Parasitic food plants for space exploration

David Erskine erskine at
Tue Sep 23 22:32:26 EST 1997

Parasitic food plants for space exploration

In the future, people will move further out into the solar
system, and further from the sun. Planets and moons that are
colonised will have subzero temperatures, and with little or no
atmosphere. On such bodies, photosynthesising plants could only
be grown in warmed greenhouses, and being far from the sun,
photosynthesis will be slow.

Is it possible to use non photosythesising, parasitic plants,
genetically adjusted to bear useful fruit or tubers? Parasitic
plants normally tap into the sap of other plants, but could as
easily tap into a nutrient solution.

I assume a supply of sugar from Earth, or even synthesised from
local materials. Genetically adjusted, non photosythesising,
parasitic plants are grown hydroponically in caves on other
planets or moons. Local water is used, and sterilised human
wastes supply most of the nutrients.

I envisage genetically adjusted non photosythesising parasitic
potatoes, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, oranges, apples.

Hydroponically grown parasitic plants can grow all the time.
Seasons do not matter, nor do day or night. They do not
photosynthesise, nor do they transpire the huge amounts of water
that normal plants do. They just convert sugar and water into
plant tissue.

David Erskine

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