The Key to Farming on Mars Might Be Breeding Parasitic Space Worms (Digital Trends)

The Key to Farming on Mars Might Be Breeding Parasitic Space Worms

The parasitic space worms are coming, and they’re ready to kill.

No, it’s not the tagline for some Tremors in Space B-movie monster flick. Instead, it’s the result of some research recently published in the journal npj Microgravity by UF Innovate | The Hub and UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech alum Pheronym, an Ag-biotech pest control company. And despite how it sounds, it’s actually good news. (Spoiler: it’s not us that they’re killing.)

Without proper pest control, farmers on Earth risk losing up to 80 percent of their crops. Needless to say, that kind of bad harvest could prove devastating for a developing space colony. Clearly, some form of pest control is sensible to investigate. Since air quality is critical in space (being a limited resource, and it not being quite so easy to open a window to get clean air), it would also make sense if pest control methods were biological, non-toxic ones.

That’s where the worms enter, stage left. These tiny worms are what researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the biotech company Pheronym refer to as “biocontrol organisms.”

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