Biotech Updates

Moss Detects Air Pollution

May 11, 2012

Biologist Professor Ralf Reski, Chair of Plant Biotechnology of University of Freiburg, Germany and a group of scientists from Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Ireland formed the consortium MOSSCLONE. The consortium consisting of five academic partners and five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) aims to develop a novel, precise and inexpensive method to monitor air contamination by heavy metals.

The project is based on the fact that mosses are excellent bio-indicators for airborne pollution as they take up and accumulate pollutants. Huge amounts of peat moss will be cultivated under controlled laboratory conditions, inactivated and the surface structures transferred to air-permeable bags under fabrication conditions. These moss-bags will be placed in monitoring stations across Europe and analyzed according to their ability to accumulate pollutants from the air.

"We will combine methods from molecular biology and material sciences with those from ecology and bionics," says Ralf Reski. It is hoped that this technology will be used in the whole of Europe to monitor environmental pollution.

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