Genetic engineering

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Genetic Engineering (or genetic modification, GM) is the alteration of the genetic code (DNA) in plants and animals. This science generates great expectations and poses nearly boundless possibilities. Yet, this science is a new one, and the knowledge is far from completeness. The actual achievements are very limited so far, focusing mostly on the resistance against vermin or pesticides. None of the wanted enhancements, described on this page, are ready for usage. So, the idea of solving real Martian problems with GM is rather speculative.


The metabolism of plants can possibly be optimized for the habitat:

  • Better endurance for dark periods (e.g. dust storms or temporary energy outages)
  • Ability to cope with dim sunlight (grow slow, but grow ...)
  • Ability to cope with radiation

Insects might be optimized for food production:

  • The larvae grow faster and provide more valuable substances


Compared with legacy vegetables the new developed genetically engineered plants may not be stable in the long run. Genetic alteration will be necessary after a while, maybe unexpectedly. It should be used only if the settlers have the ability to do corrections. Same with computer software. If a software bug shows up in a vital system (e.g. Y2K), the settlers would want someone who can fix it. DNA is a kind of software.

Open issues

  • What genetic alterations exist up to now?