Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Nanon Nanoff

Please ignore the potential environmental disaster of embedding nanoparticles all over the planet, and instead focus on how we are reverse engineering the process of chemosensation.

Plants communicate with chemicals the way we use words. Many, almost all, of the chemicals that populate the aromatic repertoire of the fragrance industry are plant-derived. If they do not come from the plant itself, as an essential oil, then they are synthetically produced in chemical reactors, yet, the target product will have originated to imitate the molecule found in nature.

Now, we get one example of synthetic biology doing the work. Imagine the scaled-up version, the chemical factory is now a biological plant, like a factory, but modeled on an actual plant, like lemongrass, but then run through bacteria programmed to produce citronellol.

Granted the nanosized sensors described in this article below are not producing any molecules, only sensing them. But any synbio fragrance plant would need a good sensor network. 

Also, "nanobionic plants" 

Carbon nanotubes embedded in leaves detect chemical signals that are produced when a plant is damaged
Apr 2020, phys.org
These sensors can be embedded in plant leaves, where they report on hydrogen peroxide signaling waves.

Plants use hydrogen peroxide to communicate within their leaves, sending out a distress signal that stimulates leaf cells to produce compounds that will help them repair damage or fend off predators such as insects. The new sensors can use these hydrogen peroxide signals to distinguish between different types of stress, as well as between different species of plants.

"Plants have a very sophisticated form of internal communication, which we can now observe for the first time. That means that in real-time, we can see a living plant's response, communicating the specific type of stress that it's experiencing," says Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT.

via Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Tedrick Thomas Salim Lew et al. Real-time detection of wound-induced H2O2 signalling waves in plants with optical nanosensors, Nature Plants (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41477-020-0632-4
Unrelated image credit: Krzysztof Marczak via Deviant Art

Post Script:
Center for Strategic and International Studies Headquarters, Washington DC
February 6, 2020

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