December 14th, 2001

NU scientists create plant that could grow on Mars Australian Associated Press

Imagine turning the barren red planet Mars into a lush green oasis. Aside from the small problem of finding enough water, scientists have developed just the plant to do it. Actually, many different plant types could be used, but they would have to be modified with a gene known as Rubisco. Professor John Andrews and Dr Spencer Whitney, from the Australian National University’s Research School of Biological Sciences, have led the world’s first team to successfully replace a key enzyme of photosynthesis that converts carbon dioxide to plant sugar. Professor Andrews said the team had genetically inserted a bacterial version of the gene Rubisco which is able to grow in an atmosphere much like that on Mars.