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Swedish scientists lay groundwork for botanical circuitry | AAAS Science

curated by | November 21, 2015

“Each of these building blocks consists of a short, repeating chain of a conductive organic molecule with short arms coming off each link of the chain. Each of the arms sports a sulfur-containing group linked to a hydrogen atom. Berggren’s group found that when they placed them in the water, the rose stems readily pulled the short polymer chains up the xylem channels. The intact plants pulled the organics up through the roots as well, though much more slowly, Berggren says. Once inside, the chemistry in those channels pulled the hydrogen atoms off the short arms, a change that prompted the sulfur groups on neighboring chains to bind together. The upshot was that the myriad short polymer chains quickly linked themselves together into continuous strings as long as 10 centimeters.”

John Payne’s insight:
It’s not too hard to imagine genetically engineering soil bacteria to supply the short chain building blocks. Even without additional circuitry, wiring in plant stems might make it easier to use radar to image them. However, whether the polymer presents any risks to plant health or to animals consuming the plants containing it are questions that would need to be answered early on.

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