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Space-bred morel mushrooms returned by Shenzhou-12 successfully cultivated

2023-07-20 Editor : Zhang Dongfang ECNS App Download

(ECNS) -- Chinese scientists have selected several space-bred morel mushroom varieties returned by the Shenzhou-12 crewed spaceship and successfully cultivated new varieties with excellent characters, said China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on Wednesday, which also published the seed list for space breeding experiments inside Shenzhou-16.

Morel mushroom, a kind of edible fungus with delicious taste and high economic value, is mainly planted in China’s Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan and Shaanxi. It has stricter demands for light, air, humidity, soil and other living conditions. And the fungus now faces problems of strain degradation, unstable fruiting and low yield in the process of planting.

The CMSA said scientists have selected eight from 263 varieties which were sent to space and cultivated large and fragrant morel mushrooms with high quality.

Zhao Qi, a research fellow with the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said there are big differences between the seeds that have traveled to space and those haven’t.

“The morel mushrooms that are not sent to space can grow into seven to eight centimeters, while those return from space can grow into 10 to 11 centimeters,” said Zhao.

According to Zhao, those bred in Shenzhou-12 have gained more weight and their highest yield can reach 1.6 tons each mu (about 666.67 square meters).

“We plan to promote the new varieties on the market so that farmers can plant them to make profits and more consumers can taste the kind of morel mushroom,” Zhao said.

Space breeding involves exposing seeds and strains to cosmic radiation and microgravity during a spaceflight mission to mutate their genes.

The Shenzhou-16 crew members, who are currently on board China's space station, will conduct their first extravehicular activities (EVAs) within the next few days, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said.


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