A study found clover plants when planted in simulated Martian soil, grow better after pairing the soil with a nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Previous studies have proven that by addition of matters such as manure, grass clipping and worms, growth of plants in Mars soil improves significantly. However, a team of scientists at Colorado State University made an addition to these studies. The researchers found that adding nitrogen-fixing bacteria to simulated Martian soil promotes better growth of plants. Mars soil lacks some of the vital nutrients needed for earth plants like nitrogen molecules. As per the team, after providing some nitrogen-fixing organisms to clover plants in Mars soil that are common on earth, they were able to propel the growth of the plants by 75%.
Mars soil is awfully dry and dusty, it is not very suitable for farming. The soil is known as regolith, it lacks the normal organic matter from plants and animals that gives essential nutrients to crops. However, the plant growth in Mars soil can be supported with additional matters. The team of scientists grew clover plant in simulated Mars soil sample where few plants were provided Sinorhizobium, a nitrogen-fixing microorganisms. It resulted in boosted growth of those plants with Sinorhizobium. The plants grew much better with 75% more amount of roots and shoots than plants in regolith soil. Intriguingly, nitrogen molecules did not grow in the soil with treated plants. The regolith could be improved if nitrogen-containing molecules increased in the soil.
Furthermore, the scientist explain, Sinorhizobium meliloti bacteria that forms nodule, proved to form nodule in Mare regolith, and enhanced growth of clover plant in a greenhouse assay. This study gives a better perspective of how plant and microorganisms can help to transform regolith on Mars.