Scientists create cyborg plant

Scientists create cyborg plant

Bionic plants could join genetic modification as an accepted method to increase harvest crops.

Scientists have developed a plant filled with electronic circuitry, a bionic plant. The goal is to create plants that can respond to environmental conditions and give farmers accurate insight on its health.

The Washington Post reports that the published work in Science Advances simply proves that bionic plants are possible. The scientists that worked on the study aim to work on a large array of electronic plants.

The flowers, developed in Sweden, were created by adding a synthetic polymer called PEDOT-S to the rose’s systems. The roses absorbed the polymer as if it were regular water. Once the polymer reached the flowers xylem, it formed conductive wires about 10 centimeters long.

Researchers then used the rose’s electrolytes, which naturally carry an electric charge, to create circuits in the plant. This can be used in the future to help monitor plants, or make changes that would otherwise require genetic modifying. If circuits can be separated from the edible portions of plants, food can potentially be created using genetically-modified and electronically-altered technology to make heftier harvests, in the future.

Some scientists are skeptical over the future implementations of the technology, unsure if it will ever be useful. The experiments were performed mostly on plant cuttings. This makes it hard to determine how long plants will bloom with the electronic additions. A similar experiment, however, applied a polymer to the leaves of roses, forming living pixels. These pixels allowed researchers to change the color of the leaves, whenever they wanted. The leaves containing the polymer have yet to wilt, giving hope to the future of bionic plants.

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