Later in the Dune series, the Bene Gesserit have transplanted some sandworms and there are sandworms living on other planets besides Arrakis.

Considering the importance of melange and that it was coming from only one planet, why didn't the Empire try to protect their resources by transplanting some sand trout or sandworms to other planets earlier? Wouldn't this have made them (and the Spacers) less vulnerable to an attack on a single planet?

5 Answers 5


As far as I recall, up until Liet-Kynes, nobody knew of the connection between spice melange and sandworms aside from Fremen.

From Wiki article, quoting Dune:

Liet-Kynes describes such a "spice blow" in Dune:

Then he heard the sand rumbling. Every Fremen knew the sound, could distinguish it immediately from the noises of worms or other desert life. Somewhere beneath him, the pre-spice mass had accumulated enough water and organic matter from the little makers, had reached the critical stage of wild growth. A gigantic bubble of carbon dioxide was forming deep in the sand, heaving upward in an enormous "blow" with a dust whirlpool at its center. It would exchange what had been formed deep in the sand for whatever lay on the surface.

  • 12
    and during Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, several attempts were made to transplant a worm off Arakis, all failed because of the missing link of Sandtrout. Leto-II figured out that the sandtrout were the critical key to the whole cycle. He told the BG about this and they successfully created their own Dune on Chapterhouse several thousand years after his death.
    – SteveED
    Feb 26, 2012 at 2:29
  • just a small annoyance.. but Liet-Kynes was Fremen. So no one outside of fremen sietches knew anything about said connection between worms and spice.
    – Arammil
    Jul 11, 2013 at 9:37
  • 2
    The biggest reason the emperor never tried to move the worms was because having all of the spice on arrakis allowed them uncontested monopoly, its far easier to control 1 planet, with limited supplies. This would also leave prices extremely high, which is what the entire universes economy was based off of. With the 3 balances of power, the emperor, choam, and the navigators, Dune was the means of the emperor asserting his pull on the other 2 rivals. They never attempted to learn about the spice, until pardot Kynes, almost 10,000 years after spice was discovered.
    – Himarm
    Feb 25, 2015 at 14:23
  • According to the Dune wiki, Liet's father Pardot Kynes discovered the relationship between sandtrout, worms and spice, although no direct reference is given for that. Aug 4, 2018 at 7:12

If I remember all this correctly, it's because the link between Sandworms and Sandtrout was not known to them. The link between Sandworms and the melange was discovered by Paul Atreides and the link to Sandtrout by Leto Atreides II (Paul also knew about the importance of Sandtrout, but it's through Leto's eyes that we discoverer it as readers). But all this information was kept secret.

The Bene Gesserit rediscovered this secret later and were able to create a new Arrakis.

Update :

After DVK's comment, it turns out that it's Pardot Kynes (Liet-Kynes's father) who discovered the relationship between the spice and Sandworms.

Kynes had the Fremen collect copious amounts of data on the climate, biology and ecosystems of the planet. Through his research, sandtrout were discovered. Indeed, it was through the sandtrout that Kynes learned the relationship between the spice and Shai-Hulud.

  • Great minds :)))) I think it may have been Liet Kynes though, not Paul, but don't have the book handy to check Feb 25, 2012 at 0:53
  • Well, I read this 15 years ago... You are probably right.
    – DavRob60
    Feb 25, 2012 at 1:07
  • @Dvk see my update: it was Pardot Kynes, Liet Kynes's father thet made this discovery.
    – DavRob60
    Feb 25, 2012 at 1:16

There are pragmatic reasons beyond the practical ones. Don't forget the political and economic ecology of the empire. It runs on a system of hydraulic despotism. If there were more than a single, well defended font of the vital resource, House Corrino couldn't measure out the release to enforce its power. Think of an upriver nation damming water to keep downriver nations under their thumb.

You might think of a worm transplant as building new factories, distributing production, but its more like OPEC owning ALL the oil fields and then creating renewable oil fields in less secure territory. And the Guild gets to have power over it in transit. Upsetting the balance could prompt the overthrow of House Corrino by another Major House.

Corrino assumed the harsh nature of Arrakis and mutual dependence on the Guild would prevent the loss of their singular font of power. No army could land (unless by Guild conspiracy), let alone carry out an effective assault. A second source would put Corrino in danger of assault on two fronts, possibly by the whole Landsraad if they can even work together, maybe even with authorization to Nuke the Emperor's secure source or his Sardukar training prison planet to dismantle his defenses. One thing clear in the Dune universe is that seat of power is precarious, and any major change introduces unknowns ripe for manipulation and power grabs.

Had someone figured out how to do it, the transplant may be proof of principle for another, and another, and pretty soon each faction has their own Spice source and is no longer dependent on CHOAM and the Empire's hand on the valve. The balance of power is broken. Chaos ensues. Nobody wants large-scale war if it can be avoided, even Paul. The Guild would probably win in the end, because they have the only Navigators (the new secured source), checked by Landsraad nukes. Until someone else invents Navigation, like the Ixian technophiles eventually do, and then the chaos repeats.

Hydraulic despotism is precisely the means by which Leto 2 "preyed" on galactic civilization, enforcing peace to guide the evolution of genetic and cultural traits that would resist the totalitarian despotism of prescient beings (i.e. future God Emperors and K. Haderachs). He weaned the galaxy off its spice dependence - and again this was only possible because he held the single source, the only font of galactic power. He even shrunk the source with his terra-forming, confining the worms to a smaller range and bringing spice production to a trickle. It's like reducing oil reserves, everywhere, abruptly and letting post-peak oil play out: famine and diaspora and totalitarian control over its course.

So if the God Emperor's Golden Path was always Herbert's end-game, for plot reasons it was necessary to keep the single, well-secured source in place. If it were possible before Leto 2's modifications, we'd end up with a very different story that wouldn't explore the hydro-despotic themes as thoroughly. Nor would he have the necessary grip on the Bene Gesserit to prepare them, culturally, for the Honored Matres threat and their own spice source after his death.


They tried but the sandworms were dying - there is a reference saying the guild tried numerous times. The only sandworms that are transported and adapted in later books are the ones spawned by the Leto 2 death, thus genetically altered with his DNA.


Part of leto II golden path was the ability to transplant the spice cycle to countless worlds. The sand troat created from his death were smarter and more adaptive, making them more easily transplanted.

Also when previous attempts to transplant sand troat had been tried they had always been placed in desert areas as no one understood that the sand troat needed water to thrive. They create and maintain the desert they don't start in one. The honored matres lack of spice suggests the scattering was unsuccessful in transplanting worms (possibly the the initial spice bath used by the BG to start the cycle on Chapter house was the missing element.)

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