Conquering Space with Crops That Produce Ample Oxygen and Antioxidants Journal Article uri icon



  • Sustainable long-term space missions require regenerative life support from plants. Traditional crop plants lack some features desirable for use in space environments. The aquatic plant family Lemnaceae (duckweeds) has enormous potential as a space crop, featuring (i) fast growth, with very high rates of O2 production and CO2 sequestration, (ii) an exceptional nutritional quality (with respect to radiation-fighting antioxidants and high-quality protein), (iii) easy propagation and high productivity in small spaces, and (iv) resilience to the stresses (radiation, microgravity, and elevated CO2) of the human-inhabited space environment. These traits of Lemnaceae are placed into the context of their unique adaptations to the aquatic environment. Furthermore, an overview is provided of the challenges of galactic cosmic radiation to plant and human physiology and the mechanisms involved in oxidative injury and the prevention/mitigation of such effects by antioxidant micronutrients. A focus is placed on the carotenoid zeaxanthin accumulated by Lemnaceae in unusually high amounts and its role in counteracting system-wide inflammation, cognitive dysfunction, and other oxidative injuries in humans.

publication date

  • June 6, 2022

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • June 7, 2022 11:39 AM

Full Author List

  • Polutchko SK; Adams WW; Escobar CM; Demmig-Adams B

author count

  • 4

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2673-9801

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 211

end page

  • 226


  • 2


  • 2