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News – Rabbit gene mixed with ivy makes super-powered air purifier



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SCIENCE | Internal air quality

Caroline Floyd
Weatherman

Saturday, December 22, 2018, at 3:46 PM – A trace of rabbit DNA has the air purifying ability of this house plant to jump to new levels.

Researchers at the University of Washington have built a better air filter by introducing a gene known as P450 2e1 in the ivy of the devil (Epipremnum aureum). P450 2e1 (or 2E1, abbreviated) is found in all mammals – including humans – where it helps break down chemicals such as benzene and chloroform, and that's exactly what you remember when the team decided to develop a better equipped plant. dealing with household pollutants.

"People really have not talked about these dangerous organic compounds in homes, and I think it's because we could not do anything about them," senior author Stuart Strand said in a university news release. "Now we design indoor plants to remove these pollutants for us."


Close up of the Golden Pothos in a tree vase on the wooden table. Image: Getty Images

Volatile chemical substances, such as benzene and chloroform, can be components of poor indoor air quality in homes. Chloroform, for example, is present in small amounts in chlorinated water and can be released into the air when you bathe or boil water. Benzene is a component of cigarette smoke and gasoline, as well as some household items such as glue and paint. In mammals, the 2E1 protein breaks down these harmful chemicals into carbon dioxide and chloride ions.

The team introduced a synthetic version of the 2E1 rabbit form in ivy, also known as pothos ivy, so that each plant cell contained the pollutant-destroying protein and then tested its purifying ability of air versus unmodified plant.

The results were very encouraging if you are a fan of cleaner air.

Over only three days, the modified ivy reduced the chloroform concentration in the air by 82%. On the sixth day, it was almost undetectable. On the eighth day, the benzene concentration also dropped by about 75%. The unmodified plant had no impact on pollutant levels.


The staff behind the modified house plans. From left to right: Ryan Routsong, Long Zhang, Stuart Strand. Mark Stone / University of Washington

It is a mutually beneficial relationship as well. "2E1 can be beneficial to the plant as well," said Strand. "Plants use carbon dioxide and chloride ions to make their food, and use phenol to help build components of their cell walls."

For total efficiency, you need to make a type of & # 39; biofilter & # 39; in your house; something like a small greenhouse, with the plant closed and the air forced to flow over it using a fan. "If you had a plant growing in the corner of a room, it would have some effect in that room," Strand said. "But without the airflow, it will take a long time for a molecule on the other side of the house to reach the plant." Speaking to The Guardian, Strand estimated that you would need about 5 to 10 kg of the modified plant to clean the air in an ordinary house.

The team then hopes to further expand the air purification capacity of the estate by adding another protein, which is designed to remove another common household pollutant – formaldehyde.

Sources: University of Washington | Contact Us | The Guardian

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