Bionic plants are on their way
The $6 million bionic plants are on their way. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are adding superpowers to plants by incorporating miniature carbon nano-tubes into their cells.
Some plants undergoing this change have shown significant improvements in their photosynthetic activity. There are altered plants that have experienced as much as 30% increase in photosynthesis than regular plants. Others could detect small traces of contaminants and impurities in air.
According to MIT researchers carrying out this study, this is just the start. Michael Strano, a professor of chemical engineering at the institute stated that their primary aim is giving plants abilities that they do not possess naturally.
Researchers at Strano’s laboratory are working on the nexus of nanotechnology and plant biology, a field of study referred to as nano-bionics. This study is going on for 3 years with the goal of figuring out the right process of giving plants new functions.
The first challenge of the researchers was positioning the nano-tubes in the plant’s body. The obvious choice for the scientists was watering the plants using a solution containing nano particles; however, this procedure did not work because the structure of plant roots stopped nano-tubes from penetrating.
Strano’s team then decided to carry out the penetration process through stomata, tiny pores present on the base of leaves. This method turned out to be an effective one.
The next step of converting regular plants into bionic plants is transporting the nano-tubes into chloroplasts or the site of photosynthesis.
The bionic plants that are on their way to change the entire idea about a plant’s working capacities have higher photosynthetic efficiency due to the presence of nano-tubes that are capable of absorbing light of higher wavelength than a regular plant would be able to absorb.