Biotech Updates

Researchers Develop GM Houseplants to Clean Air

January 9, 2019

Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified pothos ivy — a common houseplant — to help clean the air inside homes. Hazardous compounds such as chloroform and benzene build up in homes, and exposure to both compounds have been linked to cancer.

The modified photos ivy removes chloroform and benzene from the air around it. The plants express a protein called cytochrome P450 2E1, or 2E1, that transforms these compounds into molecules that the plants can then use to support their own growth. The researchers made a synthetic version of the gene that gives instructions in making the rabbit form of 2E1. They introduced it into pothos ivy so that each cell in the plant expressed the protein. Pothos ivy doesn't flower in temperate climates so the GM plants will not spread via pollen.

For more details, read the UW News.