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May 15, 2020

MIT Nanosensor Can Alert a Smartphone When Plants Are Stressed

Posted by in categories: chemistry, mobile phones, nanotechnology

Carbon nanotubes embedded in leaves detect chemical signals that are produced when a plant is damaged.

MIT engineers have developed a way to closely track how plants respond to stresses such as injury, infection, and light damage, using sensors made of carbon nanotubes. 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.

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