(AUSTRALIA)

Scientists in Australia have developed a technique for ‘speed breeding’ crops which has its origins in outer space.

Inspired by NASA’s efforts to grow wheat in space, the University of Queensland (UQ) team announced earlier this month it had successfully produced plants ‘using continuous light on wheat which triggered early reproduction in the plants’.

“By using speed breeding techniques in specially modified glasshouses we can grow six generations of wheat, chickpea and barley plants, and four generations of canola plants in a single year – as opposed to two or three generations in a regular glasshouse, or a single generation in the field,” Dr Lee Hickey, UQ Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) Senior Research Fellow, told UQ news. “Our experiments showed that the quality and yield of the plants grown under controlled climate and extended daylight conditions was as good, or sometimes better, than those grown in regular glasshouses.”

It is an innovation that can help in overcoming the challenge of feeding a rapidly growing global population.