Perspective: The multiplanetary future of plant synthetic biology

The exploration of space is one of the most inspiring areas of scientific research and a major driver of technological innovation. One of the major factors limiting human expansion trough space is the immensely high cost of resupplying resources from Earth. Mars is the closest neighbor to Earth and although it has the most Earth-like environment, differences in the levels of radiation, soil nutrient content and liquid water availability will limit an efficient farming. Using as a framework the forthcoming human mission to Mars, Llorente, Williams and Goold discuss the latest advances in bioengineering that will allow sustainable life beyond Earth, not only by modifying plants’ capacity to seize nutrients in a more efficiently manner, but also by adapting microbes to the extraterrestrial ambient so they can complement and facilitate plant life. (Summary by Aime Jaskalowoski) Gene 10.3390/genes9070348