Mutant Marijuana From Space!

Mission looks at zero gravity effects on cannabis strain development

Front Range Biosciences, an agricultural technology company focused on  breeding and nursery production of new plant varieties and seeds for the hemp and coffee industries, is giving new meaning to getting “spacey.”

Front Range Biosciences announced plans to send cannabis to the International Space Station. No, it’s not to get astronauts high. Instead, the mission will transport plant cultures to space to examine zero gravity’s effects on the plants’ metabolic pathways.

The experiment, being targeted for the ISS aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled for March 2020, will look at how plant cells undergo gene expression changes or genetic mutations while in space. Front Range Biosciences is providing the plant cultures, while SpaceCells will provide expertise, management and funding for the project. BioServe has flight qualified hardware to house the plant cultures and facilities on board the International Space Station (ISS) to maintain the cultures under controlled conditions. BioServe will manifest and integrate the experiment and will work with the NASA astronauts to transfer experiment hardware to BioServe’s incubator on board ISS and execute the experiment.

Up to 480 plant cell cultures will reside in a space-made incubator that will regulate temperature in their temporary home aboard the ISS for about 30 days. The environmental conditions for the cultures will be monitored remotely from BioServe’s payload operations center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. After about a month, the cells will be returned to Earth, where researchers at Front Range Biosciences will examine the plant samples and evaluate their RNA to determine how microgravity and space radiation exposure altered the plants gene expression.

Ultimately, the results of the research could help growers and scientists identify new varieties or chemical expressions in the plant. This will also allow scientists to better understand how plants manage the stress of space travel and set the stage for a whole new area of research for the company and the industry.

With the advent of private space travel, an area of space research has emerged called “new space”, where researchers are studying the effects of microgravity on a variety of organisms, including everything from disease cells to various plant varieties. SpaceCells is on the forefront of the commercialization of that research.

“We’ve been fortunate to be a leader in the new space industry and we’re excited to explore these amazing opportunities with the team at Front Range Biosciences and BioServe,” said Peter McCullagh, CEO of SpaceCells. “These are big ideas we’re pursuing and there’s a massive opportunity to bring to market new Chemotypes, as well as Plants that can better adapt to drought and cold conditions. We expect to prove through these and other missions that we can adapt the food supply to climate change.”

Because of rising temperatures due to climate change, there are many environments on Earth that are unable to support crops that once thrived in those regions. Learning how plants respond to novel environments – such as space – can help companies like Front Range Biosciences breed crops to thrive in locations where they have not performed successfully in the past.

The crew at Front Range Biosciences, SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe do not believe this will be the sole mission. Instead, the group plans on conducting a series of investigations that can boost the productivity and viability of terrestrial crops and plants.

“We envision this to be the first of many experiments together,” said Louis Stodieck, Chief Scientist of BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “In the future, we plan for the crew to harvest and preserve the plants at different points in their grow-cycle so we can analyze which metabolic pathways are turned on and turned off. This is a fascinating area of study that has considerable potential.”

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Print
Email

Recent Articles

Does cannabis help with pain relief? Or is it all in your head?

According to new research, the placebo response –- the appearance of improvement in a person’s physical or mental health after taking a placebo or ‘dummy’ treatment — amounts to 67% of the pain relief associated with genuine cannabinoids. Looking into 20 studies using cannabis for pain control in over 1,450 people between the ages of

Read More »

How to Protect The Health and Wellness of Your Most Valuable Asset – Your Employees

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) have become a vital resource for small business owners. Unfortunately, many of you aren’t aware of their existence or the services they provide such as counseling for those affected by workplace violence, wellness matters, traumatic events, relationship challenges, professional harassment, legal matters, adoption issues, eldercare and child care and more. Coverage

Read More »

Upcoming Legislative Sessions: What can we expect to see?

In my last article I discussed the 2022 legislative sessions in many states. In this article I want to shed some light on what we and many other advocates across the country anticipate in the 2023 session. As always, if you have any questions about how to get involved, ideas and relationships you may have

Read More »

How to Attract Seasonal Help

If you’re struggling to find seasonal workers, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that a quarter of small business owners have had a harder time finding seasonal help this year than in the past. And given that the clock’s ticking down, you might be growing increasingly desperate to find temporary workers. Offering minimal wages

Read More »

Cannabis Banking Bill Could Pass Congress by Year’s End

It has been a long road for the cannabis banking bill that aims to protect financial institutions that work with the marijuana industry. But analysts say the “SAFE Banking Plus,” has a roughly 70% chance of passing before the end of 2022. The House passed the SAFE Banking Act in 2021 and 2019, but getting

Read More »

Social Media

Most Recent

Are you 18 or older?