CUHK soybean taken into space by Shenzhou-16 The second part of the first Hong Kong agricultural space research project launched
Professor Lam Hon-Ming, Choh-Ming Li Professor of Life Sciences and Director of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and his team, supported by the China Manned Space Agency, and in collaboration with the China Resources Research Institute of Science and Technology (CRRIST) and Shenzhou Space Biotechnology Group (SBG), have sent Longhuang Soybeans into space on the Shenzhou-16 crewed spacecraft that launched today (30 May). Together with the rhizobia specimens previously launched by the Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft, this represents the full implementation of the first Hong Kong agricultural research project launched into space.
The soybean seeds that were launched include three cultivars (Longhuang 1, Longhuang 2, and Longhuang 3) with excellent salt and drought tolerance characteristics. These cultivars were co-developed by Professor Lam Hon-Ming and his collaborator Professor Zhang Guohong from the Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and they have been distributed to local farmers in Gansu province at no cost since 2016.
To further advance soybean breeding technology, Professor Lam is collaborating with CRRIST and SBG, launching these cultivars into space, to investigate any induced mutagenesis under space conditions. The team will conduct a meticulous analysis of the precious returned specimens to explore the mutation mechanism of soybean seeds in space, aiming to achieve breakthroughs in agricultural technology and explore the possibility for prospective space voyages.
Overwhelmed with joy and excitement, Professor Lam Hon-Ming sent off his soybean seeds to the skies, looking forward to their safe journey home. “This project, on the one hand, marks a new milestone for agricultural advancement in Hong Kong, and on the other hand, it also strengthens the synergistic scientific efforts in Hong Kong and the Mainland. I hope that this project can also inspire local students to excel, to break through, and to broaden their horizons.”
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