Scientists have recently uncovered a groundbreaking method to make the lunar soil conducive to growing plants, a vital step for the prospective colonization of the moon. The aim is to establish enduring bases on the moon with a sustainable food source, recognizing the impracticality of cultivating traditional crops like corn or wheat directly on lunar soil. In a recent study, Chinese researchers introduced specific bacteria to lunar soil, enhancing its fertility by boosting the availability of a crucial plant nutrient, phosphorus. Through experiments in a lab using simulated lunar soil, they observed that the treated soil produced plants with extended stems and roots, as well as more substantial and denser leaf clusters compared to soil without the introduced bacteria. This breakthrough could pave the way for cultivating plants in future lunar colonies, creating bio-friendly soil for agriculture in lunar greenhouses.

The researchers clarified that the bacteria altered the lunar soil’s acidity, resulting in a lower pH environment. This acidity prompted previously insoluble phosphate-containing minerals to dissolve, releasing essential phosphorus for plant growth. Yitong Xia, the lead author of the study from China Agricultural University, stressed the significance of these findings, envisioning the potential use of these bacteria to convert lunar regolith into a suitable substrate for plant cultivation, ensuring a stable food source for potential lunar settlements. In alignment with these developments, a Reuters report highlighted a significant breakthrough in making lunar soil suitable for agriculture, potentially enabling prolonged human habitation on the moon by ensuring a reliable food source and paving the way for sustainable agriculture systems meeting long-term food and oxygen needs.