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Bioengineered. 2013 Mar-Apr;4(2):65-71. doi: 10.4161/bioe.22286. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

Screening and genetic manipulation of green organisms for establishment of biological life support systems in space.

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  • 1Research Center for Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, Astrobiology and Space Medicine Laboratory, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.


Curiosity has driven humankind to explore and conquer space. However, today, space research is not a means to relieve this curiosity anymore, but instead has turned into a need. To support the crew in distant expeditions, supplies should either be delivered from the Earth, or prepared for short durations through physiochemical methods aboard the space station. Thus, research continues to devise reliable regenerative systems. Biological life support systems may be the only answer to human autonomy in outposts beyond Earth. For construction of an artificial extraterrestrial ecosystem, it is necessary to search for highly adaptable super-organisms capable of growth in harsh space environments. Indeed, a number of organisms have been proposed for cultivation in space. Meanwhile, some manipulations can be done to increase their photosynthetic potential and stress tolerance. Genetic manipulation and screening of plants, microalgae and cyanobacteria is currently a fascinating topic in space bioengineering. In this commentary, we will provide a viewpoint on the realities, limitations and promises in designing biological life support system based on engineered and/or selected green organism. Special focus will be devoted to the engineering of key photosynthetic enzymes in pioneer green organisms and their potential use in establishment of transgenic photobioreactors in space.


Mars; Rubisco; astrobiology; extreme environment; microalgae; photobioreactor; photosynthetic enzyme; plant

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