Plants are modified to express a mammalian protein called 2E1, which allows them to transfer harmful compounds into compounds that can support plant growth.
The interior of our homes can contain small molecules such as chloroform or a benzene component of gasoline through simple activities such as showering, boiling water or storage of lawn cars in attached garages, Interesting Engineering reported.
Small toxic molecules are too small for HEPA
These compounds tend to be too small to be affected by even HEPA air filters, but long-term exposure to them is associated with cancer.
"People do not really talk about these dangerous organic compounds in homes, and I think that's because we could not do anything for them," said study researcher Stuart Strand, Dr. Stuart Strand. said. He is a professor of research in the Department of Civil and Engineering Engineering of UV.
"Now we are engineering houseplants to remove these pollutants for us."
Scientists received inspiration from nature, focusing on a protein called cytochrome P450 2E1, or 2E1 for short. 2E1 is present in all mammals, including humans.
In our bodies, 2E1 turns benzene into a chemical called phenol and chloroform in carbon dioxide and chloride ions.
Unfortunately, the protein is in our liver and is not available for processing air pollution.
"We decided that we should have this reaction outside the body in one plant, an example of the concept of green liver," explained Dr. Strand.
"And 2E1 can also be beneficial to the plant. Plants use carbon dioxide and chloride ions to make their food, and they use phenol to help compose the components of their cell walls."
The researchers developed a synthetic version of the gene and, with slow and complex measures, ultimately introduced it into the throat of the thigh, so that each cell in the plant had expressed the protein.
The researchers then tested their new GMO plants. They took an unmodified factory and a modified factory and placed them in glass tubes, which were then filled with benzene or chloroform gas.
Plants have massively reduced levels of pollutants
The concentration of each pollutant in each tube was monitored over the next 11 days.
The levels did not change at all for unmodified plants, and yet, for modified plants, the concentration of chloroform decreased by 82% after three days.
Until the sixth day, the chloroform was almost imperceptible. Benzene levels also drop in modified plant bottles, but at a slower rate, it takes eight days to reduce levels by 75%.
The team believes that the plants will work in homes, but at home it will need a good air flow or fan directed to the factory for maximum efficiency.
The researchers will now work on developed modifications for other common home formaldehyde, which is present in adhesives, wood and furniture.