Researchers create world’s first bionic plant

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

bionic plant
A researcher injecting special chemicals into the plant.

A team from MIT has just created the world’s first bionic plants, and the green organisms are capable of using about 30% more sunlight to make food than before.

The inventors are not exactly sure what they’re going to use the plant for, but they do know this: since each one costs less than a dollar to make, the bionic plants will be super cheap to produce.

Regular plants usually absorb energy directly from the sunlight in a process called photosynthesis. All they need are some bright rays, fresh water, and a gas called carbon dioxide (that we actually breathe out after inhaling oxygen that the plants release). From there, they follow a series of chemical reactions in microscopic structures in their leaves known as chloroplasts, until they produce energy.

Now, by inserting itsy bitsy tubes known as nanotubes into pores on a plant’s leaves, researchers managed to increase how much light the plants could absorb, and ultimately how much energy they could produce. The researchers are sure their success lies in the special coat of DNA around the nanotube. Not only did this allow them to insert the tubes harmlessly, it also made the plants kind of eager to accept the tubes as well.

Images courtesy of Bryce Vickmark via MIT.