Scientists Added Rabbit DNA To a Plant In the Name of Cleaner Air

Thursday, 20 December 2018 - 1:18PM
Science News
Thursday, 20 December 2018 - 1:18PM
Scientists Added Rabbit DNA To a Plant In the Name of Cleaner Air
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Adding a plant to your work or living environment can help you breathe easier because of the boost in oxygen production. That's all well and good, but why not take it to the next level? According to BGR, a group of researchers recently found a way to create plants that are also effective at cleaning the air of certain chemical compounds. The key? Adding a bit of rabbit DNA.

Using a species called Devil's Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) the researchers genetically modified the plant using a synthetic version of the cytochrome P450 2e1, a mammalian gene found in rabbits. Naturally, the gene promotes the production of an enzyme that breaks down and removes chemicals in the animal. Through their experiments, the researchers found that the gene was also effective in turning the plant into a purifier capable of removing volatile organic carcinogens (VOCs) like benzene and chloroform from the air. And the numbers are pretty staggering: while a normal plant used as a control reduced VOCs by 10 percent in a week, the modified plant was able to break down the chemicals by more than 90 percent, New Scientist reports

"We want to offer this to the public as a way to reduce a proven, real health threat," Stuart Strand of the University of Washington in Seattle said in a statement. He added that by simply improving air ventilation in a space can help with the reduction of air pollution, but said that the plants would be a bonus. "It's almost a no-brainer."

It could be a while before these modified plants are available in the home. As usual, there is more testing that needs to be done, and that kind of product would be subject to approval for production and sale in the United States and other countries. Hopefully this isn't the last we hear of this interesting and potentially game-changing research.
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