Türkiye’s inaugural manned space mission is just months away. Turkish scientists are gearing up to conduct groundbreaking experiments aboard the spacecraft.
This project centers around genetic interventions on plants within the space environment and aims to assess the efficacy of this process.
The timing of this historic space voyage coincides with the centenary celebrations of the Turkish Republic.
The Turkish Space Agency and the Space Technologies Research Institute of Türkiye’s Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) have collaborated on 13 experiments.
The space study is being called “Investigation of CRISPR Gene Editing Efficiency in Plants under Microgravity Conditions,” as its aim is to explore the effects of genetic modifications on plants in a microgravity environment, shedding light on the potential for sustainable agriculture beyond Earth.
A Ph.D. student from Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul, Tuğçe Celayir, who is leading the project, touched upon the importance of the experiment.
“In our project, we are focusing on making an analysis for the first time, which will support future studies to improve the health of plants with the genetic intervention we will make on plants. Can this analysis be done under microgravity? Can this application be done? We are looking for answers to these questions.”
Celayir added that the chosen model organism for this project is the “Arabidopsis thaliana” plant due to its rapid germination period and extensive use. This is a ground-breaking study as it marks the first attempt at genetic intervention on plant species in space conditions.
“After this study, plants that can be a food source in the future can also be used to create an artificial ecosystem and to provide an oxygen source within this ecosystem. Today, when we talk about future Mars colonies, it is important that we both create an ecosystem that will support astronauts in long-term space missions and work for the health of these plants in the ecosystem to be created.”
The mission will be launched in the final quarter of 2023 as an underling for the following space journey. The scientific venture will be completed once the analysis is started on the plant samples returned to Earth.
By Breaking News Turkey with AA