Scientists have begun the selection and cultivation process of over 60,000 potato seeds that spent five months in space in the hope of discovering unique qualities that may improve efficiency and yield.

The seeds, delivered to the Shangdu Potato Technology Innovation Center in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, were carried aboard the Shenzhou XVI space mission that returned to Earth on Oct 31. "The cultivation process for these space potatoes will involve test stages in the laboratory, greenhouse, and field," said Zhang Linhai, director of the Shangdu Potato Technology Innovation Center.

The region boasts an excellent potato-growing environment with high altitude, cold climate, few pests and diseases, and ample available land, said Zhang in an interview with China Daily on Tuesday.

The seeds will be germinated in a greenhouse under optimal conditions and then nurtured in pots until tubers develop. Subsequently, they will be transferred to the field for further evaluation of their various characteristics.