The earthworms beneficial effects on soils may be promising to improve lunar soil fertility, enabling the use of local substrates for space farming. Herein, we investigated the effects of the lunar regolith simulant (LHS-1) at different concentrations in cow manure mixtures on the survival and fitness of Eisenia fetida. During 14 and 60-day experiments, although E. fetida showed an increased mortality with LHS-1 alone, most of the population survived. More numerous tunnels were observed when exposed to the higher concentrations of LHS-1 (poor in nutrients for earthworms). This may be related to an increased mobility for food search. The cocoons production was not affected by different substrate treatments, except for the highest concentration of LHS-1. No effects of different LHS-1 concentrations on the amount of ingested substrate were recorded. This study shows that E. fetida can potentially colonize lunar regolith representing a future valuable biological tool for supporting crops growth on the Moon.

Turning earthworms into moonworms: Earthworms colonization of lunar regolith as a bioengineering approach supporting future crop growth in space

Adriano Di Giovanni;
2023-01-01

Abstract

The earthworms beneficial effects on soils may be promising to improve lunar soil fertility, enabling the use of local substrates for space farming. Herein, we investigated the effects of the lunar regolith simulant (LHS-1) at different concentrations in cow manure mixtures on the survival and fitness of Eisenia fetida. During 14 and 60-day experiments, although E. fetida showed an increased mortality with LHS-1 alone, most of the population survived. More numerous tunnels were observed when exposed to the higher concentrations of LHS-1 (poor in nutrients for earthworms). This may be related to an increased mobility for food search. The cocoons production was not affected by different substrate treatments, except for the highest concentration of LHS-1. No effects of different LHS-1 concentrations on the amount of ingested substrate were recorded. This study shows that E. fetida can potentially colonize lunar regolith representing a future valuable biological tool for supporting crops growth on the Moon.
2023
Bioregenerative life support systems Ecopoiesis Earthworms Lunar regolith Moon
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12571/27204
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