Gene-edited rice may be able to grow on Mars

M93A81 Golden colored Asian Rice plants (Oryza sativa) growing in their natural condition with drooping rice grains and a mountain background in rural Japan

Modified rice plants could better handle Martian soil

Antony Ratcliffe / Alamy Stock Photo

Gene-edited rice plants may be able to grow on Mars. Researchers have now identified a gene that, when modified, seems to give rice plants a better chance of surviving in harsh Martian soil.

Martian soil, or regolith, has fewer nutrients than Earth soil and contains compounds that can be toxic to some plants. To see how well rice can handle such conditions, Abhilash Ramachandran at the University of Arkansas and his colleagues grew rice seeds in a series of mixtures of regular …