Response System for Detector Plants

In order for a plant to serve as a detector for substances of human interest, e.g., pollutants, explosives; a readout system is needed so that the plants can transmit information to humans that the substance has been detected. 

A readout or response system has four requirements.

1.  Rapid

2. Recognized by public

3.  Reset Function

4.  Remote Detection

We developed a degreening gene circuit that provides all four requirements (see publications).   The degreening gene circuit simultaneously initiates chlorophyll breakdown while blocking new chlorophyll synthesis.  Because chlorophyll loss uses a synthetic means not used in nature, P680 is attacked causing a massive production of plastid ROS.  The plastid ROS disrupts the thylakoid structure and photo-bleaches the accessory pigments. Collectively, these changes cause the plant to turn white.  




Plants regreen with stimuli removal

Plants regreen with stimuli removalChlorophyll changes allow remote detection within 2 hours

Hence the degreening gene circuit meets the 4 requirements for a readout system. The degreening gene circuit is under control of a transcriptionally induce promoter. This will allow us to link the readout to a highly specific input system.


Plants Induced with OHT turn white

Plants Induced with OHT turn white