In a study published in Science Advances, Japanese researchers reported that healthy offspring came to the world for nearly six years from rat sperm that had been exposed to large amounts of cosmic radiation.
The lyophilized semen, that is, lyophilized, was stored on the International Space Station, and after being returned to Earth and rehydrated, 168 healthy mice were born from it.
According to the experts, the appearance of all the young mice was normal and the genetic examination showed no abnormalities. Vakagama Teruhiko, an employee at the University of Jamanasi in Japan, and colleagues who led the study sent three containers, each containing 48 ampoules of sperm, to the space station in 2013.
Specialists investigated whether long-term exposure to space radiation damages the DNA in reproductive cells and contributes to the transmission of mutations to future generations.
Nine months, then two years, and finally six years later, the ampoules were returned to the ground to be fertilized by female mice, giving birth to hundreds of offspring. According to the researchers, when the already grown “gaps of space” mated, the next generation also looked normal.
When it comes time to migrate to other planets, we need to preserve the diversity of genetic resources, not only for humans, but also for pets and farm animals.
– The experts wrote, adding that for physical and safety reasons, gametes are likely to be transported aboard spacecraft and via non-living animals. They chose freeze-dried semen because it can be stored at room temperature and counts for up to two hundred years aboard the space station.
Conquering other planets means leaving the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field. Deep space is full of powerful radiation associated with solar-energy particles and galactic cosmic rays outside the solar system. Even in spacecraft, the sun produces particles that have their harmful effects.
MTI reports that experts have not yet studied the effects of cosmic radiation on frozen eggs and fertilized embryos.