Robert Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul are researchers.

Tyler Jones/UF/IFAS

Plants were grown in soil collected from the moon in a study funded by NASA.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a press release that the study is important to the long-term goals of human space exploration. He said that the research could have implications for plants on Earth.

Nelson said that resources found on the Moon and Mars will be used to develop food sources for future astronauts.

In the study, researchers planted the seeds of a plant related to mustard greens, as well as other cruciferous vegetables, in lunar soil, which was collected directly from the moon.

Researchers planted the seeds in a lunar simulant in order to compare.

Anna-Lisa Paul, a research professor in the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida and the study's lead author, described the samples from the moon as "powdery" and "fine".

Within days of planting, the seeds started to grow.

Paul, who is also the director for the University of Florida, said that it was amazing to see that every plant group, all the seedlings, had sprouted.

The seeds that grew in lunar soil did not grow as well as those in the control. Some of the plants grown in the lunar soil samples had some of their roots and leaves ripped out.

After the plants had grown for 20 days, researchers prepared to study the plant. According to the release, the expression of the genes matched the way in which they had been seen to respond to stress in other environments.

Robert Ferl, assistant vice president for research, said, "Now that we have lunar soil that have been in contact with biology, we can begin to ask the question: how would you and how hard would it be to mitigate any of the adverse reactions that we saw?"