Attn:David Erskine/Parasitic plants etc...

David Erskine erskine at
Mon Sep 29 22:30:13 EST 1997

In article <342B16CA.7A7E at>, slayrz at wrote:

>    I wonder about the effiency of your hypothetical process. Some energy 
>is obviously lost in the conversion of solar energy to "food energy". How 
>much more would be lost when trying to convert sugars back into plants 
>with food potential ? Would it consume less energy just to dehydrate and 
>transport rather that transport sugar in any form?


Sugar is easy to transport and stores well. Preferably, sugar
will be synthesised where it is used, using local carbon,
hydrogen and oxygen. Food combusts to CO2 and water, and CO2 and
water can, in principle, be made back into sugar again, using
electric energy from, say, radioisotopes.

>    This brings up the next question, "What do you mean by local water ?"
Water is available on many bodies in the solar system, and water
will be recycled.

>    What elements would become concentrated by continued recycling of 
>wastes ? Here on earth, human waste contains heavy metal toxins, among 
>other undesirable elemants.
Not concentrated, just recycled. Heavy metals only appear in
sewage on Earth when sewage is mixed with storm water runoff.

>    Planets, moons, and asteroids with little or atmosphere to filter the 
>sun's rays would perhaps receive enough solar radiation to permit 
>photosynthesis, although the photoperiod will be significantly different.
The point is to get away from dependence on photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis works well at our orbit, but further out from the
sun, other methods of food production will have to be found.
Though it is possible to generate electric power, and grow plants
under powerful lights in cabinets.

>    I am unaware of any parasitic plants that may be or are capable of 
>providing any kind of significant nutrition. Maybe, someone out there 
>knows of some.
I do not know of any either. I presume that new varieties of
existing food plants can be bred by switching off the genes for
photosynthetic mechanisms. I do not suggest that this is an easy
task; just achievable.

>    Do you know someone in the CSIRO by the name of Stuart Miller ? He 
>would have graduated from the University of New South Wales in the early 
>70's. Graduate work in soil science and strip mine reclamation at the 
>Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Sorry, I do not know Stuart Miller. I have looked through CSIRO
staff on the Internet, but he does not appear.

David Erskine

More information about the Plantbio mailing list