Scientists have developed cyberplants that could potentially grow on Mars

Editorial staff

Scientists have developed cyberplants that could potentially grow on Mars

Researchers have developed a method for growing nanomaterials inside plants. This technology has great potential for future deep space travel and the colonization of Mars.

Hi-Tech
# MOF
# biotechnology
# space
#Mars
#nanotechnology
# plants
# ultraviolet radiation
#photosynthesis

cyplant
© Wikipedia

Science fiction writers have long written about human-machine hybrids endowed with incredible abilities. However, breeding “superplants” with integrated nanomaterials may be much closer than cyborgs, at least today. Scientists reported on the development of plants capable of producing nanomaterials known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and the use of MOFs as plant coatings. The bred plants have the potential to acquire useful new functions, such as sensing chemicals or collecting light more efficiently.

Scientists will present their results at the American Chemical Society (AXO) National Conference and Exhibition.

According to lead author Joseph Richardson, humans have been adding new materials to plants for thousands of years. Thanks to their extensive vascular networks, plants easily absorb water and molecules dissolved in liquids. However, larger materials and nanoparticles – like MOF – have a harder time penetrating the roots. Richardson and his colleagues decided to find out if it is possible to saturate plants with MOF precursors, which they eventually convert into finished nanomaterials.

Video about the study and its results / © ACS / YouTube

To do this, scientists added metal salts and organic linkers to the water, and then placed the plants in the solution. Plants moved the precursors into their tissues, which grew two different types of MOF fluorescent crystals. In an experiment to test the concept of pruning a lotus producing MOF, low concentrations of acetone were found in the water, resulting in decreased fluorescence of the materials. Based on these results, Richardson plans to investigate whether plant hybrids and MOFs are capable of sensing explosives and other volatile chemicals, which could be useful for airport security.

In addition, ready-made MOF materials produced in this way can be used as plant coatings to protect them from harmful UV rays and improve photosynthesis.

Researchers have already begun to study the protective properties of nanomaterials, and preliminary data are promising. The team covered the cuttings of the chrysanthemum and lilithurf with fluorescent MOFs and then exposed the plants to ultraviolet light for three hours. Compared to untreated plants, MOF pruning was less discolored and less wilted.

As humanity travels further into space, it will need food and other supplies. And such cyberplants could help precisely because of their ability to transform ultraviolet light, which is extremely abundant outside the earth s atmosphere.

“Since we are considering growing crops in space or on Mars, where you have no atmosphere and are exposed to ultraviolet rays, something like that could be beneficial,” says Dr. Richardson. “In particular, as you move away from the Sun, it becomes more difficult to capture the light necessary for photosynthesis.”

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Hi-Tech
# MOF
# biotechnology
# space
#Mars
#nanotechnology
# plants
# ultraviolet radiation
#photosynthesis

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