Through genetic modification, scientists have reportedly developed a common houseplant to protect residents from cancer-causing pollutants. Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a houseplant named pothos ivy to get rid of benzene and chloroform from the air around it, cite sources.
The modified plant exhibits the 2E1 protein that alters the compounds into molecules that the plants can later use to promote their own growth, revealed the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Although a variety of air filters at home can prevent dust and allergens, some harmful compounds are too minuscule to be trapped in these filters. For example, pollutants such as chloroform, which is present in small amounts in chlorine water, or benzene, which is a gasoline constituent, can start to settle in house premises when one showers, boils water or stores cars or lawn mowers in attached garages.
Stuart Strand, Research Professor at the University of Washington was quoted saying that people haven’t really given a thought to the presence of harmful organic compounds in homes since nothing could be done about them, until now.
According to sources familiar with the process, the team used the proteins called cytochrome P450 2E1, which is found in all mammals including human beings, where 2E1 turns chloroform to CO2 and chloride ions and benzene to phenol. The researchers first made a synthetic version of the gene that served as instructions to create the rabbit form of 2E1. This was later introduced into pothos ivy so each cell in the plant exhibited the protein, cite trusted sources.
Sources claim that the plant doesn’t flower under mild climates, therefore, the modified plants won’t be able to spread through pollination. The plants would also need to be indoors with something that allows air past the leaves, like a fan, Strand added.
The researchers are presently working to enhance the plant’s capabilities by incorporating a protein that can destroy another harmful molecule named formaldehyde, which is present in products like wooden laminates, cabinets, and tobacco smoke, reported sources.