MSOB: Worms in Space, How Nematodes Might Help Space Exploration

Taylor Hillman Industry, Making Sense of Biologicals

Making Sense of Biologicals,  nematodes

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have recently sent beneficial nematodes on an interstellar expedition. With more and longer space travel in the foreseeable future, the project aimed to see if the tiny worms could remain an effective pest management option in space for food production.

In this episode of the Making Sense of Biologicals (MSOB) campaign, we welcome back USDA Agricultural Research Service Entomologist Dr. David Shaprio-Ilan who led the cosmic project. He said the nematodes spent about a month in outer space and the results were very promising.

Producing food in space will likely need to be a common practice to lengthen space travel and increase the number of celestial missions. A natural agricultural pest suppressant like beneficial nematodes could play a big part in that practice. But are there agricultural pests in space? Dr. Shapiro-Ilan said he got that question a lot during the research and the simple answer is, “Pests follow us wherever we go…we expect there will be pests eventually.”

Listen to the episode with Dr. Shapiro-Ilan.

‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.

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