Sun-Driven Microbial Synthesis of Chemicals in Space




What they say about it

Long space flights and planetary settlement will require sources of nutrition and chemicals that must be generated in space. This will include not only amino acids and vitamins but also oxygen, all of which can be generated by means of biosynthesis. Synthetic biology has the potential to generate organisms designed for supplying human nutritional needs in space. Photosynthetic microbes may be ideal for this purpose, as they are more efficient per volume cultivated than green plants at conversion of light to chemical energy, biomass and nutritional molecules. In addition, microbes are easier and faster to genetically engineer, facilitating not only design and terrestrial manufacture of organisms optimized for growth and nutrient production in the artificial conditions of space, but superior ability in space to develop organisms suited to newly discovered environments. Source

Country of Origin

How they say it works

Two specific approaches deserve consideration: production by traditional photosynthetic microbes, or by the newly appreciated capacity of some bacteria to absorb electric current (e.g. solar panels) to drive metabolism. Palatability and sensory stimulation are a key part of food consumption and could be engineered into microbes. As a first step, NASA should test a bioreactor in which genetically engineered, nutrient-producing photosynthetic bacteria are grown and harvested in space. Source

Market Status

Ensuing Products
Food, Food Additives, Organic Chemicals

Synbio Components