XI’AN — A new space breeding research center has been unveiled in Northwest China, with missions including applying space technology to cultivate quality tree seedlings for the country’s well-known Three-North Shelter Forest Program.
Located in Yangling National Agricultural Demonstration Zone in Shaanxi province, the research center has been established by the Space Biology, a technological consultancy with China Academy of Space Technology, in cooperation with a local plant cultivation company.
Space breeding combines astronautics with agricultural sciences. Seeds are sent into space in a spacecraft. In the space environment, seeds may undergo mutation and after returning to Earth, mutated seeds are selected and planted to breed new varieties with a higher quality and yield.
The center, which also serves as a space seed breeding lab, will protect the returned seeds, conduct further selection and test them on Earth.
The newly established center has been assigned by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration with an urgent task to send 20 tree species into space and cultivate quality tree seedlings for the Three-North Shelter Forest Program which places forest windbreaks in North, Northwest and Northeast China, said a source of the Yangling zone.
China has been working on space breeding technology for more than 30 years and has conducted more than 70 space breeding experiments, carrying more than 6,000 seeds into space, of which more than 230 have been successfully selected, including for crops, vegetables and flowers.