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Prozac for Plants
Pyrococcus furiosus

It's only a matter of time before terrestrial flora and fauna finally find their way to Mars. Though to survive and thrive there, they will need some traditional Frankenstein treatment. As a recent NASA article explains: “On Mars, plants would have to tolerate conditions that usually cause them a great deal of stress — severe cold, drought, low air pressure, soils that they didn't evolve for.” Like humans, the article also explains, plants suffer from stress: “They produce a chemical signal -- superoxide (O2-) — that puts the rest of the plant on high alert. Superoxide, however, is toxic; too much of it will end up harming the plant.” The first step to get plants to grow on Mars, then, is to relieve their anxiety.

And scientists find their Prozac pill in Pyrococcus furiosus, a microbe that “lives in a superheated vent at the bottom of the ocean, but periodically it gets spewed out into cold sea water. So, unlike the detoxification pathways in plants, the ones in P. furiosus function over an astonishing 100+ degree Celsius range in temperature. That's a swing that could match what plants experience in a greenhouse on Mars.”

Scientists also hope to transfer genes from other extremophile organisms that not only will help plants cope with extreme conditions such as drought, cold temperatures, low air pressure, and low light levels but also thrive to be able to sustain settlements on Mars.

Meanwhile, how about some botanical illustrations of these Floral Frankensteins? They would be the most amazing botanical illustrations ever, even if they were to look merely common and not the post-terrestrial species that futurists love to imagine them as.
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