Plant Biosensors Identifying Health Issues In Your Home

A new technology to use house plants as biosensors that indicate your home’s health status is underway. For instance, these plants will have the potential to notify you of high carbon monoxide levels, mold, flu particles and other health hazards.

Neal Stewart, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Tennessee, indicates that through genetic engineering, they hope to develop plants to indicate certain occurrences in the home. He adds that the ideal plants to use in this case will be the ones with light-colored flowers and large, multicolored leaves. This would make it easier to detect the changes in color.

Scientists have long been exploring the ability of plants to change their color when subjected to stimuli. They know that by infusing a fluorescent jellyfish’s genes into a plant’s cells, plants will glow. However, in this case, the discovery would be to fine-tune this phenomenon to respond only to specific stimuli such as radon.

For the best results, it is recommended that users have numerous plants placed strategically in their home. Researchers are working on creating a whole wall of plants that will change their colors subject to specific stimuli. This is superior to single plants, as it is more appealing to the eye and has a high density of foliage to better display color changes.

Plants would ideally be placed close to air conditioning systems, heating systems or other areas where volatile organic compounds are the most concentrated. The plant biosensors have been dubbed ‘phytosensors.’ While this concept is not new, plants biologists at the institution state that they are really counting on the technology to drive innovations like detecting drugs at airport security systems.

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