Growing plants on other plants seemed like an impossible idea until now. However, a new research published in the Journal Science revealed something incredible. Scientists from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom discovered a new type of photosynthesis.
“The new form of photosynthesis made us rethink what we thought was possible. It also changes how we understand the key events at the heart of standard photosynthesis. This is textbook changing stuff.” declared Bill Rutherford, a co-author of the new research.
The new photosynthesis
Until now scientists believed that plants were able to absorb only visible light on the spectrum and they thought they were harvesting red light. However, a new type was discovered by the team of researchers from the United Kingdom.
They discovered near-infrared photosynthesis which was found in a wide range of blue-green colored algae who are known under the name “cyanobacteria”. The scientists managed to grow this algae by using LED lights.
Normally, the algae perform photosynthesis when there is enough light. However, this new type of photosynthesis happens under low light conditions. Usually, the green pigment known as chlorophyll-a is the one who carries the photosynthesis. Nonetheless, researchers discovered that another pigment named chlorophyll-f can also perform this process.
By keeping plants alive even under these harsh conditions, it might become possible to grow plants on other planets. Until now scientists used the red limit when they determined whether they can grow plant life in space, but this is no longer the case.
Astrobiologists are already thinking about the possibility of creating plant colonies on planets close to us, such as Mars. Since planets can produce oxygen, this would mean that humans would be able to colonize other planets in the future.